MULTICULTURALISM IN INTERNATIONAL EDUCATION:
A CRITICAL THEORY APPROACH
B.A., Antioch College, 1977
A thesis submitted to the
University of Colorado at Denver
in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Master of Social Science
This thesis for the Master of Social Science
has been approved
Schweinfest, Jeffrey (M.S.S., Social Science)
Multiculturalism in International Education: A Critical Theory Approach
Thesis directed by Professor Jana Everett
This thesis examines diversity in study-abroad programs in higher education from a
critical theory perspective. This analysis problematizes overseas study, in which two-
thirds of all participants are White females and 75% of all participants study in
Western Europe. Previous research has been conducted by academics involved in
international education to analyze this issue in an effort to increase the representation
of heretofore excluded categories, such as African Americans, Latinos, and Asian
Americans. However, I found little to no evidence of research that investigates other
categories of people, such as senior citizens, gays and lesbians, and disabled people,
whose voices are also silenced from the international education debate.
In this paper, I have provided a theoretical examination that incorporates a post-
modern, postcolonial critical pedagogy focusing on the relationship between politics
and pedagogy to explain the dearth of diversity in study abroad programs. Analysis
of this issue is supported with narratives from participants in study-abroad programs
and a review of program and research literature. With this approach, I hope to
deconstruct the ideological and theoretical underpinnings of international education
in order to contribute substantially to a rethinking of its organization that will lead to
an increase in the participation of traditionally underrepresented groups in study
abroad. Specifically, I advocate a radical multiculturalism to promote educational
exchange based on a discourse of social justice, emancipation and human dignity.
This abstract accurately represents the content of the candidates thesis. I
recommend its publication.
I would like to thank my entire thesis committee, Myra Bookman, Chair Jana Everett,
and Marie Wirsing, for their close reading and constructive feedback. Their
comments were especially helpful in the overall organizational structure and in
honing my ideas.
I also want to thank Nina Ghandour and Bette Smith, from the bottom of my heart,
for their support, encouragement, friendship and love, not only during the thesis
process, but also throughout our participation in the program. Our regular contact and
discussions were key to helping me complete this undertaking.
Finally, I dont think any of this would have been possible without the love, support
and, importantly, editorial expertise of my partner, Joe Cahn. Fie abided all my
moods, kept me on track, and always provided support. I cant end without expressing
my gratitude for maintaining the household throughout this period, especially the
cleaning. If you knew how much Joe hates housecleaning, youd realize what a
commitment to me this is.
Diversity and Study Abroad............................6
2. REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE................................14
Purposes and Goals of International Education in the U.S.19
Achieving Greater Diversity in Study Abroad.....41
Diversity in International Education: Barriers and
Family Concerns, Fear of Discrimination,
and Program Location............................45
Program Staffing and Outreach...................47
3. THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK.....................................52
Critical Theory/Critical Pedagogy.....................52
Power and Politics...............................55
Production and Location of Knowledge.............59
Postmodernism and Poststructuralism..............65
Social Change, Justice and Liberation............74
Diversity, Cultural Hybridity and Multiculturalism....78
4. DECONSTRUCTING INTERNATIONAL EDUCATION...................92
Problematizing Barriers to Low Minority
Family Concerns and Fears of Discrimination......99
Program Location and Fears of Discrimination....104
Program Staffing and Outreach...................110
Problematizing the Purposes and Goals
of International Education..........................112
Limitations of the Research.........................128
Recommendations for Future Research.................129
At centurys end, educators and students are rethinking their shared
enterprise. The Cold War is over, we are told, and the national boundaries are
blurring as the economy grows increasingly globalized. At the same time, internecine
conflicts within nations are proliferating, posing the gravest threats to stability at
home and around the world. Study abroad has traditionally been an option at U.S.
universities that connects students with the larger world, but less than one percent
(Cooper, 1991) chooses it. It is time to reexamine this aspect of higher education in
light of the sea change we are undergoing.
Few would argue about the intrinsic value of international education. For
some, it fosters an understanding of the world and promotes world peace. For others,
it ensures domination of world markets or strengthening national security. And still
for others it suggests trekking in Nepal or working in a different country to learn
about another culture or impart knowledge about ones own culture.
Research, to be summarized in Chapter 2, has shown the great need for
internationalizing education. Joseph Mestenhauser (1997) refers to this idea,
especially as it relates to post-World War II development of educational exchange
programs, as an effort to close the knowledge gap between what we know now and
what we will need to know in the future. He proposes a paradigm shift that questions
the very foundation of knowledge that is ethnocentric and culture-bound.
On the threshold of a new millennium, two numbers speak volumes about the
status of study-abroad programs in the U.S.: Two-thirds of all current participants are
White females, and 75% of all students study in Western Europe (Cooper, 1991;
Frey, 1994). I submit that traditional international education is an elitist institution
that serves to reinforce existing relations of power in the U.S. In order to counter
this hegemonic approach to study abroad, which in essence silences minorities and
those who lie outside the dominant discourse, I believe international education must
be deconstructed1 as a locus of global domination outside and within the U.S.
Several decades of struggle for self-determination by minorities in the U.S.
has resulted in the introduction of multicultural curricula in the schools, which have
improved, opened up and liberated education from the one-sided, monochromatic
traditional approach. This paradigm shift has yet to change the prevailing discourse
on international educational exchange. Analysis of historically excluded populations
in study-abroad programs may provide an impetus to restructure international
education to meet the needs of minority students (and the world at large) and broaden
our world knowledge.
I have chosen my topic and approach because the study-abroad enterprise
matters deeply to me. In the spirit of critical theory as a research methodology, a
1 Deconstruction, as used throughout this paper, connotes a disruption and a decentering of a text in
order to uncover what is embedded in the text by revealing its internal dialogical tensions (Caputo,
1997; Derrida, 1978). In particular, deconstruction is employed to dismantle the binarism between
internationalism and multiculturalism in my discussion of study abroad. Although I do not use
deconstruction to perform the in-depth, rigorous linguistic analysis often associated with Derrida, I am
interested in examining how international education as a text refutes itself.
personal manifesto is not out of place here. I have an agenda, in both the sense of a
list of items and issues I expect to take on, and in the political implications of the
word. I took part in a university study-abroad program as a student 25 years ago.
Since then, I have worked as an administrator of overseas study programs, and have
lived and traveled abroad extensively. My radical politics emerged at an early age (I
opposed intervention in Vietnam when I was 10, and worked in support of
farmworkers rights by advocating a lettuce boycott at age 13). My experiences
abroad during college confirmed my Marxist view of society, from its economic base
to all its social structures.
At present I work at a community college both as a teacher and administrator
of adult education for public assistance clients seeking self-sufficiency, a program
that grew out of the welfare reform act of 1996. My interest in these programs is to
promote education as an act of self-empowerment. As an openly gay man with non-
sectarian Marxist beliefs, I am committed to a revolutionary engagement to confront
oppression inherent in capitalist relations of production. Thus, I wish to make it
clear from the outset that I will raise my own voice throughout this narrative. In
synch with my theoretical and methodological framework, I am not a neutral,
objective observer, but rather a full participant in the co-construction of knowledge.
My conception of this thesis has evolved over time. What began as an
examination of minority participation in study-abroad programs has developed into
a more theoretical discourse. This reflects my radicalism, both in the sense that I
seek out the root causes of things, and also in its everyday connotation of struggling
for fundamental change.
I reject the notion, so pervasive in todays political discourse, that the
revolutionary project is dead, and that the Left is morally and intellectually bankrupt.
Despite being privileged by my gender and ethnicity, I identify strongly with those
who are marginalized, whether by sex, color, physical ability, or any other factor.
In this thesis, I will show how study abroad is one of the battlegrounds of the
culture wars being waged in U.S. academic life. Here the issues of multiculturalism
and internationalism come head to head as traditional educational policies are recast
to accommodate a broadened construction of learning in which every player has a
vital part to play. No longer can higher education serve a narrow elite. It must take
diversity into account on every level.
I began this inquiry with a simple question: Why do so few minorities
participate in study abroad? As I have read the literature of the field itself and the
theoretical contributions of scholars in other disciplines, I have started to ask many
more questions about how education is conducted.
The combination of my political and educational background has led me to
the topic of multiculturalism in international education, which I analyze through the
lens of critical theory, specifically, a critical pedagogy that problematizes education
as a politically neutral site of knowledge production. I will illustrate how
international education is a discourse implicated in the social structure of a political
economy based on hegemonic relations of production. In its stead, I will promote an
education that is liberatory, transformative, empowering and multicultural.
Existing scholarship on international education in general, and on the
institutions that sponsor these programs, seems to have overlooked the potential of
critical theory to probe such questions. A focus on the relationship between politics
and pedagogy can go further to explain why there is a dearth of minority
participation in study-abroad programs than previous, less ideologically grounded
analysis has done. I turn for inspiration to Paulo Freire (1970/1997, 1985), Peter
McLaren (1995,1997) and Henry Giroux (1989, 1992), the critical pedagogues
who blast open the doors of the academy and place the issues of education in a larger
context in their postcolonial and postmodern framework. Giroux (1992) states:
In the shift away from pedagogy as dehistoricized, atheoretical practice,
there is an increasing attempt by various cultural workers to engage
pedagogical practice as a form of cultural politics. Both in and outside
the academy this has meant a concern with analyses of the production
and representation of meaning and how these practices and their effects
are implicated in the dynamics of social power, (p. 2)
Pedagogy, Giroux continues, is a discourse that should extend the principles and
practices of human dignity, liberty, and social justice ... (p. 4).
Paulo Freire (1970/1997) proposes a problem-posing education that is
dialogical and posits as fundamental that the people subjected to domination must
fight for emancipation (p. 67). This dialogue involves teacher and student, subject
to subject, as co-constructors of knowledge in an effort to subvert a system of
oppression in favor of human freedom. I submit that minority participation in study
abroad programs will further this struggle for human liberation.
Throughout this study, I extend the Freirean problem-posing tactic to my
chosen topic. In the spirit of critical theory, I cannot leave the established order
unquestioned, though as a postmodernist, Im wary of grand schemata for problem-
Diversity and Study Abroad
In my review of the literature (see Chapter 2), I have found little evidence
that institutions track minority participants in study abroad. In fact, most of what has
been written on the topic is in the form of masters theses and academic conference
papers, which begs the question why this area of interest is primarily the concern of
graduate students and not policymakers, university administrators and others in
positions to influence this discourse. What literature does exist focuses on African-
Americans and Latinos. Little to nothing is said about other ethnicities, such as
Asian Americans and American Indians, and only in passing are groups such as gays
and lesbians, disabled people and senior citizens mentioned. This gap is significant
and in itself beckons further study.
The participation of minorities in study-abroad programs at institutions of
higher education has never been proportionate to their numbers in the general
population (Reid, 1995). The Council on International Educational Exchange
(CIEE), which coordinates many collegiate study-abroad programs, has outlined 11
barriers which have impeded minority access to international opportunities,
especially study abroad (Carter, 1991, p. 13). Numerous studies have identified
reasons for low minority participation rates in international education programs,
which include family, finance, lack of awareness of programs, and fear of racism
abroad (CIEE, 1991; Fernandez, 1995; Reid, 1995).
A 1989 position paper by CIEEs Committee on Underrepresented Groups in
Overseas Programs (revised spring of 1990) defines these groups as:
Ethnic and racial minorities; students from certain academic
disciplines (e.g., the sciences, law, engineering, business, education,
pre-med, and agriculture); students with disabilities; students from
certain types of institutions (e.g., Historically Black Colleges and
Universities, community and technical colleges, institutions that enroll
large numbers of low and middle income students and nontraditional
students); men; low income students; older and part-time students
with or without dependents; campus leaders and athletes, students
without a second language; commuter students; students from certain
U.S. geographical areas. (1991, p. 65)
From my perspective, the most glaring omission from this list is the category
of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered students. As Machery says (in Moi,
1985), it is the gaps and silences that are more interesting than the text itself in
revealing the ideological, economic, social, [and] political structures (p. 94).
A qualitative study of minority participation in U.S. university study-abroad
programs may lead to insights which can affect institutional policies and practices,
and make international educational exchange more attractive and fulfilling to the
very populations who have side-stepped it. The analytical tools of critical theory,
which heretofore do not appear to have been applied to foreign study, afford me an
intellectually authentic way to delve into an experience that was formative in my
own life, and in which I hope to play a leading role in the future.
The discounting of minority experiences in much of the study-abroad
literature is woefully summarized by the following: Studying abroad provides
special illumination for American students because it may be the only time in a
students life that he or she experiences life as a minority population (McLean,
1990, pp. 49-50). This abnegation of minority experience in the U.S. is particularly
frightening in light of the weakening or dismantling of affirmative action (e.g., in
Adarand Construction, Inc. v. Pena, June 1995; University of California decision to
end affirmative action, July 1995, and passage of the ill-named California Civil
Rights Initiative [Proposition 209], November 1996 Chavez, 1998) and other
governmental programs which have attempted to level the playing field, amend for
the past and provide opportunities to disenfranchised populations. Note the rallying
cry from a student discussing her experiences:
It is time for Black students to ... develop our world consciousness. It is
our responsibility to improve the quality and the accuracy of our
educational experiences. We can begin by rejecting stereotypes and
cultural misinterpretations that are taught in our universities courses.
We must study and travel abroad to experience societies that are not as
foreign as we expect them to be because they have all been molded by
the African diaspora. Black Scholars, it is time for all of us to
acknowledge our places in the Black world community and to
customize our education, by making it relevant to our international
reality. (Walker, 1995, 143-145)
Hembroff and Rusz (1993) provide a framework for differential rates of
participation among racial and ethnic groups in study-abroad programs and indicate
areas of further research that may increase minority participation in such programs.
Fear of discrimination and economic issues are two reasons non-White students
specify for reluctance to study abroad.
Reids (1995) theoretical analysis of this issue touches on ethnicity (after
McGoldrick, 1982), but focuses primarily on family dynamics, specifically on
African-American families unique structure [and] ethnic and cultural values...
(after Willie, 1988). Reid draws upon the psychological literature extensively.
Ironically, Hembroff and Rusz (1993) claim that awareness of other cultures may be
a precursor to interest in study abroad. (Who, if not minority students in White-
dominated U.S. society, have an awareness of other cultures? Why, then, dont
they flock to study-abroad programs?)
As trenchant as these contributions are, they seem to overlook what I see as
the big picture, a perspective that critical theory provides. Perhaps it goes without
saying for these investigators that non-participants are ipso facto marginalized. I
think it is necessary to dig below the surface to access the reasons for low minority
participation rates in international education, and examine the social, political and
economic framework of study-abroad programs.
0ijar 0yen (1985) argues that
Our degree of ethnocentrism versus cultural relativism has some
bearing on our loyalty to our own culture and the degree to which we
have strong or weak ties to our own group. It seems as though having
weak ties to ones own group is an important precondition for the
ability to relate to other groups, (p. 69)
0yen distinguishes between marginals and centrals. He posits that the
marginals are relatively more likely than centrals to be successful at bridging the
knowledge gap between and among cultures.
Minority students may be viewed as marginals vis-a-vis the dominant
culture of U.S. society and academia. They may be less invested in maintaining a
status quo to which they feel no particular tie and which has often rejected their own
texts and self-identification. Examining minority students perspectives on studying
abroad should offer some interesting insights on this phenomenon, with far-reaching
implications for international exchange, business, foreign policy and other notions
about truth and knowledge.
Even in this epoch of multiculturalism, minorities needs and concerns often
get short shrift in the design of international programs. Carter (1991) believes that
internationalism has been too narrowly defined by the academic community, to
connote Europe or the Western world. She cites one university official as stating
Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East will remain much too scary for most of
our students, and another as saying, Large numbers of students will never want to
study in Africa or the Middle East (p. 12). To whom are these administrators
referring? Typically, the voices of minority students continue to be silenced or
devalued. Carter relates a story told by an African-American junior at Radcliffe who
was counseled by her White adviser to change her East Asian Studies major because
her big lips might prevent her mastery of an Asian language (p. 14). Carter is
worth quoting at length:
It is difficult to envision improved minority access to international
education when both international and minority students continue to
be ignored on American campuses; when international students of
dark complexion are advised to stay away from certain neighborhoods
in certain cities because they might be mistaken for blacks; when
international education administrators and faculty suggest that it is
too expensive or not attractive to provide study abroad
opportunities in Africa or, interestingly enough, the Caribbean; or
when minority student participation in international education
programs is too small to track. (p. 19)
This should give pause to anyone who feels the era of racism ended with the
advent of multiculturalism and diversity in academia. Strategies designed to increase
minority participation rates are for naught without a thorough theoretical analysis of
the issues of power and pedagogy, and a program to effect social change that
counters such racist stereotyping.
As Carter (1991) points out, institutions of higher education in the U.S. tend
to define internationalism in rather parochial, Eurocentric terms. It is this way of
thinking that McLaren (1997) seeks to subvert in his appeal for a cultural politics that
challenges all practices of unfreedom associated with living in a white supremacist
capitalistic society (p. 288). Why would we assume that higher education would
not reflect the same prevailing relations of power and ideologies that pervade all our
institutions? As Gus John (1991) states:
Fundamental to the question of race and education, or even of
multicultural education is the issue of epistemology. Hegemonic
approaches to the construction of knowledge and the development of
ideas, and to the legitimation of those ideas have been at the very core
of the debate on race in education, and on Eurocentric approaches to
knowledge and to learning.... The epistemological question is for me
much more paramount an issue in international education, (pp. 24-25)
As one of the founders of critical pedagogical theory, Paulo Freire
(1970/1997, 1985) provides the theoretical framework for my deconstruction of U.S.
study abroad. Freire (1985) sees education as a referent for change to create a new
society, transcending the mere notion of schooling, and making education the locus
of struggle for meaning and power relations, a dialectic between individuals and
groups. For Freire, domination is more than power by one group over another. He
defines domination as a combination of historical and contemporary ideological and
material practices that are never completely successful, always embody
contradictions, and are constantly being fought over within asymmetrical relations of
power (Giroux in Freire, xii). The Freirean view of education sheds considerable
light on the policies and practices of study abroad.
Peter McLaren (1997) warns of the dangers of post-industrial capitalism and
its increasingly homogeneous world culture [that] needs to be challenged by
popular movements of renewal within a polycentric cultural milieu (p. 43).
Historically, international education has been confined to a socioeconomic elite for
whom it legitimizes the hegemonic position of the U.S. in juxtaposition to the
McLarens (1997) unabashedly radical analysis of education has been an
indispensable text for my own approach to study abroad. Using his epistemology, I
analyze texts that lie outside this elitist framework, and call into question the
presuppositions generally attributed to or embedded within study abroad.
I approach multiculturalism in international education by primarily
theoretical means, specifically using a critical theory/critical pedagogy framework, a
tack that no one else seems to have applied directly to the subject. To accomplish this
task, I begin Chapter 2 with an overview of the background and history of
international education. Through a review of the study-abroad literature, I discuss
the principal purposes and goals of international education as traditionally defined.
These themes include:
acquisition of cross-cultural skills;
internationalism envisioned as a ideology that results in world
cooperation and understanding;
globalization that increases both national and personal security;
a spirit of engagement that leads to the struggle for freedom; and
the need to diversify study-abroad programs.
This last theme provides the raison detre for this thesis, and leads to the next
topic of Chapter 2, in which I define the reasons for low participation rates among
minority students. This section will delineate barriers to participation (e.g., financing,
family, fears of discrimination, programming and staff diversity, and outreach), and
will recommend policy changes to redress this imbalance.
In Chapter 3 I lay out my theoretical formulations of multiculturalism and
critical theory in order to proceed to my analysis of international education in
Chapter 4. To ground this theoretical examination in praxis, I have supported my
research with a review of study-abroad promotional literature and student narratives
that discuss their experiences as overseas exchange participants.
To sum up, I maintain that international educational exchange is not
conducted in a vacuum any more than other social phenomena are. I set out to dissect
the ideological and theoretical underpinnings of U.S. study abroad on the university
level. Established government, education and international experts may give voice
to promoting international understanding and mutuality, but paradoxically they
design and pursue programs that may undermine these goals. I offer a radical re-
reading of this text.
REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE
In my review of the study-abroad literature, several salient themes have
emerged. To put them in their proper context, I begin by sketching the history of the
study-abroad phenomenon in the U.S. context. (International students who sojourn in
this country are entirely outside the scope of the thesis as I have defined it.)
Underlying the theoiy and practice of international educational exchange are
its purposes and goals. I aim to re-examine them under the lens of critical theory,
looking at the key values which study abroad fosters: the acquisition of cross-cultural
skills, individual cognitive development, and the spirit of internationalism that
valorizes difference and promotes world cooperation and understanding.
For me, education and engagement are indivisible. I do not construe learners
as passive recipients of knowledge, transmitted from teacher to student. The best
education leads one out (in the root meaning of the word) of oneself and into an
activist stance toward society. This is the heart of critical pedagogy, as propounded
by its most significant theorists (Freire, 1970/1997, 1985; Giroux, 1992; hooks,
1994; McLaren, 1995, 1997; and Peters, 1996). I will return, time and again, to the
metaphor of border crossing, a major theme throughout the postcolonial and
critical multicultural literature, but borrowed especially from Giroux, whose work I
return to later and at length. This border crossing represents the subjective experience
that has made me the person I am, and has led me to undertake this theoretical study
of the field in which I intend to work.
Having aligned myself with the critical theorists, and having avowed my own
value system, I proceed to examine the shifting programmatic considerations in the
literature: the affirmative action strain that calls for diversifying programs and
participants, in a broader struggle for full democracy; and the globalization
argument that promotes study abroad as a pathway to personal economic success,
increasing the national competitive edge.
Throughout this treatment, I spin a theoretical thread to unravel the problem
of why international education has not achieved greater diversity among its
participants. I characterize the barriers that stand in the way of broader participation,
and propose policy changes that will open study-abroad opportunities to all. Chief
among the impediments are financial and familial concerns, fear of discrimination
abroad, Eurocentric program siting and monochromatic program staffing, and
outreach considerations. The theoretical nexus is the tension between
multiculturalism and internationalism, as much within the academy as in the world at
From colonial times through the 19th century, students from the U.S. studied
abroad, in order for the sons of the wealthy to receive advanced education, which
was thought to be unattainable in the U.S. For the upper classes in pre-World War I
U.S., the grand tour of Europe was considered a prerequisite to a well-rounded
education (Hoffa, in Frey, 1994, p. 9). Between the world wars, these international
sojourners were the children of missionaries, international diplomats, and, in general,
the elite of U.S. society. The Junior Year Abroad was established at universities in
the 1920s, designed principally for female participants from the language and
humanities disciplines (Hoffa, in Frey, p. 10). Improved modes of transportation and
communication facilitated the increase and institutionalization of study-abroad
programs (Scanlon, 1990).
While the victory of the Allies in World War II proved U.S. prowess on the
military front, it found the U.S. inadequately prepared on the intellectual front
(Spaulding, Colucci, and Flint, 1982). Hall (in Scanlon, 1990) states that, For all
practical purposes, there were no trained [foreign-area] specialists at the outbreak of
the war (p. 6), least of all experts on the non-Westem world. Scanlon points out
that in 1940 there were 150,000 academics in higher education, 200 of whom were
involved in international studies (p. 6).
Thus, the development of international exchange programs became a national
priority in the aftermath of World War II. The establishment of the United Nations
and its international agencies, and the passage of the Fullbright Act in 1946 and the
Smith-Mundt Act in 1949, which created funding for international exchange,
purported to promote a better understanding of the U.S. and to promote mutual
understanding among all people (Scanlon, 1990, p. 7). Frey (1994) attributes this
expansion of overseas study programs to U.S. prominence in the sphere of
international affairs and its perceived economic strength (p. 10). Freys position
will be critiqued in a later section. Suffice it to say that the response of higher
education to governmental mandates to initiate international studies programs deeply
implicates international education in the quest for U.S. world domination.
One effect of the Cold War of the 1950s and the 1957 launching of Sputnik
by the Soviets was an increase in funding for internationalized curricula and study
abroad, aimed at countering communist influence. The founding of the Peace
Corps by John F. Kennedy in 1961 enabled students to study and work in the
developing world for altruistic reasons, i.e., to gain invaluable international
experience and to give something back to the world (Frey, 1994, p. 11). Let us not
forget that this is the same year that the Berlin Wall was built by the Soviet Union, a
concrete symbol of hostility between the capitalist and communist worlds.
While appearing to project a climate of optimism for peaceful coexistence,
President Johnson proclaimed to Congress in 1966 that ideas, not armaments, will
shape our lasting prospects for peace. The conduct of our foreign policy will
advance no faster than the curriculum of our classrooms (Task Force, 1966, p. 17, in
Spaulding et al., 1982, p. 947). This latter statement belies democratic and academic
freedom, as educational policy is designed to serve nationalistic foreign policy goals.
Clearly, Johnson didnt follow his own advice in Vietnam.
By the 1970s, Scanlon (1990) notes a declining interest in international
education in the U.S. due to inflation, the oil crisis and the Vietnam War. Spaulding
et al. (1982) echo that this diminution in funding for study abroad reflected new
social,' economic, and political problems [that] emerged from global realities as well
as domestic concerns relating to ethnic and cultural groups (p. 947). Not
mentioned in these narratives is how, during the 1970s, the exposure of U.S.
operatives in Chile, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Mozambique, Angola and South Africa,
and elsewhere in the world may have contributed to a restructuring of U.S. funding
policy for international education. With the increasing internationalization of capital,
the emphasis on study abroad was transformed from a context of intercultural
communication to one of technical assistance and the global market. Despite
President Carters focus on human rights during his tenure, his Presidents
Commission on Foreign Language and International Studies in 1979, the same year
as the takeover of the American Embassy in Iran, clearly enunciated the linkage of
study abroad to national security interests and business (Spaulding et al.).
The advent of Reaganism in the 1980s saw federal outlays for support of
international education shrink even further. However, the number of participating
students increased. Frey attributes this to a widespread popular recognition of the
importance of international study for economic reasons. Scanlon (1990) states that
if the U.S. is to maintain its industrial prominence, it must know more about other
cultures and their language; all education should be internationalized (p. 13).
Anderson (in Spaulding et ah, 1982) refers to this new global education as a way to
better prepare students for citizenship in a global age (p. 953).
With the addition of multiethnic studies to the curriculum of many
universities, the diversity of students participating in study-abroad programs has
increased, although two-thirds of all participants continue to be White females
(Cooper, 1991). On that note, we now turn to present trends in international
Purposes and Goals of International Education in the U.S.
In the Encyclopedia of Educational Research (Spaulding et al., 1982),
international education refers to
preparing] a citizenry capable of dealing with the challenges of the
modem world, its shrinking resources, and its increasingly
interdependent social, political, and economic elements. ...[and] also the
notion that we must work cooperatively with other nations of the world,
both rich and poor, to help assure progress in meeting the basic needs of
all people, (p. 946)
International education involves border crossing on every level, from the
literal to the theoretical. Cross-cultural and intercultural research in all disciplines
looks at the interaction of different cultures. If we are to examine the points of
contact, we must define, at least briefly, what culture is, especially in the context of
group identity. I envision culture as the manifestation of group membership based on
ethnicity, nationality, history, geography, organization, or other self-identified
affiliation. It is a social construct that is produced and always situated within
particular power relations. Halualani (1998) suggests that culture
consists of the social meanings and practices and the discursive material
(e.g., the discursive forms and practices, such as television, film, music,
political discourses) that we use to create our identities, behavior, and
worldviews ... culture is deeply situated within a specific social context
with an intact set of histories and power relations, (p. 267)
For me, cultural production is a manifestation of power by which the
domination of one group over another is contested. This notion of culture ascribes it
with revolutionary potential to disrupt, contest and even overthrow ingrained ways of
doing things, and to challenge the appropriation of ones culture by the dominant
culture. Rap music, graffiti and other hip-hop art forms and fashions; the Ghost
Dance revival of the Plains Indians in the 19th century; and current American Indian
protests against Columbus Day are just a few expressions of cultural identity that
offer resistance to the unequal distribution of power. Freire (1985) posits that
subordinated groups are uniquely positioned to produce a progressive and
revolutionary culture that challenges domination and hegemony.
Collier (1998) refers to culture as a historically based, interpretive,
constitutive, creative set of practices and interpretive frames demonstrating
affiliation with a group (p. 11). Giroux (1992) calls culture the multiple and
heterogeneous borders where different histories, languages, experiences and voices
intermingle amid diverse relations of power and privilege (p. 32).
I regard international education as a text ripe for cross-cultural analysis. On
the surface, it enacts the exchange between different people from different cultures.
For the sojourner, this interaction opens a cultural vista that often results in less
ethnocentrism and more ethnorelativism (Kaufftnann, Martin, Weaver & Weaver,
1992; Stassen, 1985). International education offers the opportunity to understand
ethnocentrism as a delimiting framework to be deconstructed.
For example, the dominant culture in the U.S. valorizes individualism over
collectivism. Prolonged interaction with other cultures that privilege collectivism
over individualism may be disruptive to the U.S. student abroad, but can engender a
recognition of values that are contextual and culture-bound, and foster a theoretical
framework based on a nonethnocentric, nonsuperior, and reciprocally cooperative
attitude of equality (Flack, 1981, p. 18). Flack recommends that prospective study-
abroad students participate in activities within the U.S. that lie outside their own
cultural group, such as attending a church of a denomination different from their
own, to prepare themselves as border crossers.
Values. Hand in hand with the adoption of a more ethnorelativistic stance
that the cross-cultural encounter effects, comes a self-reflexivity that questions and
reassesses ones own values and culture (Heusinkveld, 1991; Kauffmann et al.,
1992). One returning student from an overseas study proclaimed: I have a really
hard time accepting America, in terms of what it stands for and what it means to me
for the future (Kauffmann et al., p. 73). Values that were once conceived as
universal and immutable are now thought to be contingent, fluid and socially
constructed in this postmodern era.
Jack Van de Water (1997) states that the purpose of international education is
to transmit the shared values and knowledge that shape capable individuals and
cohesive communities (p. 14). This comment is replete with philosophical
assumptions about shared values and knowledge and is illustrative of mainstream
thought about international education. What values and knowledge is Van de Water
referring to? This single remark provides evidence of a need to analyze the study-
abroad constituency, particularly from a perspective that is outside the master
narrative on international education.
Van de Waters (1997) view poses some interesting questions: Do university
programs challenge a hegemonic notion of world domination, or do they reify the
tenets of monopoly capitalism and its immanent power structure? Do we want the
business community to influence or dictate policy on international education (or, for
that matter, any educational policy)? How and where do universities, as institutions
on the macro level, and student participants, as individuals on the micro level, fit in
to this ontological and epistemological framework?
Fersh (1990) states that Transcultural studies can help us transcend our
cultural conditioning by enabling us to encounter culturally different minds. In the
process, each mind is reminded that its viewpoints are mainly cultural rather than
natural (p. 73).
Interestingly, Fersh (1990) asserts that this intercultural perspective arises, in
part, from the tendency for people to live in cultures that are less and less extensions
of their pasts (p. 73). Fersh neither analyzes this withering away of ones culture,
nor does he suggest what replaces it. He may be alluding to an assimilationist,
melting-pot model in which immigrants are absorbed into the dominant culture at
the cost of their own distinct cultures, to the impact of advanced technology upon
lifestyles and societies, or possibly to the internationalization of capital that
transforms and homogenizes world cultures. While I believe every individual
experiences study abroad differently, my research emphasizes the impact border
crossing has on participants from marginalized groups, rather than those aligned with
the dominant discourse. For example, the legacy of slavery for African Americans in
the U.S. connotes a different and generally negative association with the past,
compared to those White Americans who trace their ancestry to the Mayflower.
Thus, African Americans who choose to study in Africa may be in search of a
valorized past that predates and has been negated by the history of slavery.
Cross-cultural skills acquired during overseas study do not automatically lead
to the dismantling of universalism and the acceptance of the complexities of
difference (Brinner, 1985; Flack, 1981; McElrath, 1985; and Pearson, 1981). Some
students return from their overseas study appreciating the U.S. more than previously,
while others become intolerant and close-minded, adopting a hostile or
unsympathetic view towards other nations (Kauffinann et al., 1992). However,
intercultural exchange has the potential to induce a re-evaluation of ones own
cultural presumptions and presuppositions.
Paradoxically, the same cross-cultural experiences that deepen an awareness
of a nonthreatening (Kauffinann et al., 1992, p. 140) other and difference can
also lead to an increased awareness of such universal values as respect and
appreciation. In fact, throughout much of the study-abroad literature, the recognition
of the interconnectedness and universalism among all humans is a recurrent theme
(Heusinkveld, 1991; Jenkins, 1996; Kauffinann et al.; Petersons, 1996; Rembert,
Kauffinann et al. (1992) analyze the experiences of study-abroad students in a
multivocal compendium, culminating in a discussion of the goals and purposes of
international education. These researchers findings are compiled from students
self-reported and standardized evaluation instruments. Though they are careful not to
universalize their conclusions, these authors maintain that international exchange:
creates more global awareness;
leads to more openness toward people of other cultures;
engenders a critical reexamination of ones own culture and values, resulting
in both valorization and devaluation;
recognizes both universal and particular values;
increases maturity, self-esteem, self-confidence and other affective changes;
produces a paradigm shift from one that is dualistic to one that is more
complex, relational and context-bound. (p. 144)
One of Kauffinanns (1992) team quotes a student who came to see that
humanity really does have something universal that links us together (p. 57).
However, these researchers also acknowledge the acceptance of alternative
ontological and epistemological frameworks that result from the intersection of
varying cultures. They cite another student who expressed a greater understanding of
I learned the other side, the Tamil terrorists view. And it made me
realize that they do have a reason to fight. Now I can look at any
situation where people are labeled terrorists and guerrillas and I
realize there has to be a reason that theyre fighting, (p. 57)
Intercultural Communication. Communication is one way to bridge the gap
among cross-cultural interlocutors, a very important goal for international education.
It offers a means to access anothers attitudes, outlooks and beliefs, and promotes
understanding among groups differentiated by racial, ethnic and other constructs,
without privileging one set of values or identity over another. Allowing a
recognition of difference and otherness, this interaction doesnt pressure
participants to conform to a dominant culture. Intercultural communication is
accomplished most commonly through language, but can also be achieved by other
means. For example, educational policies, laws, and media images are all forms of
communication that could contribute to the project of intercultural exchange.
Frey (1994) stresses subjective culture learning over objective culture
teaching (p. 33). This approach approximates an intersubjective dialogue, important
in critical pedagogy, by probing the individuals axiological framework, instead of
situating it in cultural institutions (e.g., economic and social systems). It has
profound implications for both domestic and international diversity (which Frey
refers to as multiculturality and internationalism, respectively, terms recurring
frequently in her work). Furthermore, Frey indicates that this process does not
abnegate ones cultural identity through assimilation, but rather induces an
adaptation within the context of difference.
For Crabtree (1998), the ability to participate successfully in cross-cultural
experiences is a communication phenomenon (p. 185) because it relies heavily on
interaction. Alone among the authors reviewed thus far, she notes the differential
impact of international experiences, which may vary depending upon the
participants gender, country of origin and individual predispositions. She fails,
however, to mention other factors that influence overseas experiences, such as
socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, physical ability or age. Her
emphasis is a practical one, promoting the importance of an adequate pre-departure
orientation, as well as management of students upon reentry.
Crabtree (1998) insists the international experience is enhanced by
concomitant participation in grassroots social justice projects that engage both
visitors and hosts. This approach embodies Freires pedagogy of liberation, aiming
to empower all participants. She also demonstrates, after Adler, the necessity of
culture shock, to confront the new culture as well as ones own, in order to develop
an intercultural frame of reference (p. 186). The final stage of this adjustment
process results in what Adler calls independence, in which a person reaches a state
of awareness and acceptance of multiple realities (p. 186). Kim and Ruben (in
Crabtree) see this transformation giving rise to linguistic and cultural knowledge,
communication competence, and cognitive complexity (p. 186).
Kauffmann and his colleagues (1992) note returning students tendencies to
form new affiliations with like-minded people, demonstrating their ability to
supersede previous group identification with family, ethnicity, and geography (p.
132). Against the backdrop of social inequality in the U.S., such social mobility may
not be equally available to all participants. In order for the cross-cultural experience
to take root, Flack (1981) states, there must be support by a critical mass of
colleagues with similar experiences and broadened cultural registers (p. 15). His
earlier point about overemphasis on individualism (echoed by Parks in Kauffmann et
al.) is well-taken.
Attitudinal shift towards other cultures on the part of repatriated exchange
students was highlighted by Kauffmann et al. (1992). Their study also determined
that some students returned more critical of their own culture, while others learn to
appreciate the U.S. more after studying abroad. Some participants indicated a greater
understanding that the values of ones own society are not universal and that other
societies are just as valuable. Underlying this finding is an assumption that the U.S.
is monocultural. Why does studying abroad engender such an epiphany about
another culture that couldnt be obtained within this multicultural society? If
additional insights from this research are accurate, i.e., that studying abroad results in
higher self-confidence and self-esteem, greater autonomy, and independence, then it
is imperative that every effort be made to diversify participation in study-abroad
In a kindred discussion, Jackson (1991) illustrates that Americans are
skeptical of a prescribed set of values. Kohls, in Jackson, states that the reason for
this ... is itself a very American valuetheir true belief that every individual is so
unique that the same list of values could never be applied to all, or even most of their
fellow citizens (p. 16). This presumption about universal American values will
be deconstructed in Chapter 4.
Study abroad challenges the participants previously held beliefs. Contact with
new sources of information that dispute ones construction of knowledge are
disconcerting at first, but eventually lead to a more profound understanding of the
world (Day-Vines, 1998; Smelser, 1985). While world knowledge is increased no
matter where an overseas program is situated, it is of particular significance when the
sojourner chooses a setting that is culturally and historically remote from Euro-
American traditions. This reconceptualization of the world involves individuals in
alternative ways of thinking and histories that lie outside their canonical schema.
Studying abroad offers the participant a mechanism for deconstructing the master
narrative on how alterity2 is constructed in the world. This is especially noteworthy
for minorities in the U.S. whose self-reflexivity may have quite different
consequences than the typical exchange student experiences.
2 This term is interchangeable with otherness, especially in connection with those who are
marginalized by the dominant culture.
Thus, this intercultural contact engenders a transformation in ones cognition.
For example, sojourning overseas often breaks down the dichotomizing tendencies
that occur between the self and an unknown, foreign other. The goal, then, is to
curtail or abort tendencies to marginalize other cultures that are as economically and
socially complex and multifarious as their own (Brungardt, 1991, p. 89). In general,
a goal of study-abroad programs is to encourage open-mindedness about the world
and foster the intellectual development of participants.
The Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE), at the forefront of
international education for over 50 years, administers a variety of study-abroad
programs and publishes information for individuals wishing to study, work or travel
abroad. It echoes my contention that:
Study abroad is a life-changing experience. A semester or year spent
overseas opens a window to a world of experiences and sheds light on
preconceptions. International study brings fresh perspectives to
international, political, and economic issues, interpersonal relationships,
and career choices, (in Reid, 1995, p. 18)
Kauffinann et al. (1992) also validate my view that a purpose of study abroad is
to develop new epistemological and ontological frameworks, such as an appreciation
of difference. Parks (in Kauffinann et al.) affirms that studying abroad can steer
cognition away from binary oppositions toward a relativistic way of thinking (p.
132). By way of example, she cites Denise, a student who concluded after studying
Customs are a practice of how we interpret an understanding of God,
and it becomes important to focus on universals and not try to force
customs on others as a means of expression. While this experience
shook some of my religious perspectives, it helped me sort out what is
central to my belief. In the midst of many good perspectives on
religions, I could choose to claim the conviction that there is a God
that can speak to all people and transcend culture, (p. 138)
While Parks example may be illustrative of a cognitive shift, I do not believe
that this new epistemological construction refutes former dichotomies; rather one
hegemonic discourse supplants another. However, Kauffmann et al.s (1992)
recommendation to develop an instrument that evaluates this paradigm shift from a
dualistic, objective and reductionist scientism, to one that is more complex,
relational and context-bound (p. 143) is worthwhile.
The cognitive dissonance (Day-Vines, 1998) that accompanies study
abroad evokes a multiplicity of dialectical tensions. For one, embarking on a new
adventure in unknown territory creates a level of discomfort even as it is a source of
growth and maturity. This discomfort may be manifested in feelings of guilt about
the luxury of going abroad, while those in less privileged positions, at home and
internationally, are trapped where they are (Smelser, 1985). Participants may
simultaneously experience defensiveness and alienation with respect to those
situations for which they assume no personal responsibility.
Abrams (1981), Neff (1985), Pearson (1981), and Stassen (1985) purport that
such growing pains enable the participant to develop the critical skills necessary for
self-reflexivity, and that awareness of the other increases ones own self-knowledge.
Stassen calls this cognitive shift the move from prejudice to informed judgment (p.
103). Kauffmann and his colleagues (1992) view of the cognitive development that
emerges from overseas study warrants quoting at length:
For students abroad who are involved in experiencing a new culture,
personal growth and academic learning tend to flow together. This
leads to a way of knowing that changes their thinking and behavior....
Study abroad is a prototype for a new perspective in education, a new
approach to learning that is holistic, synergistic, and multifaceted, that
cannot be understood or measured by conventional reductionistic
approaches. Study abroad challenges educators and researchers to
discover new ways to explain and measure the process of change that
is called education. (p. 124)
As previously mentioned, study abroad can enact an epistemological shift,
from a dualistic to a relativistic way of thinking. The language of possibility is
invoked by this cognitive transformation, with the potential for radical liberation of
the production of knowledge and meaning-making. Parks (in Kauffmann et al.,
1992) refers to Piagets insights that human maturation depends upon the quality of
the interaction between individuals and their environment (p. 125). Therefore,
studying abroad requires students in their new environments to reframe their
preconceived Weltanschauung in order to grow cognitively.
On the surface, the work of Kauffmann and his colleagues (1992) reflects
their optimism about the study-abroad project. However, they undermine it with the
closing recommendation that prospective students for overseas experience be
selected on the basis of their maturity and scholarly performance, so that they
would be less distracted by personal adjustments and therefore should do better in
academic performance (p. 154). Without an adequate explanation of these terms, I
am wary about how such a selection process might unfold, given different measures
for maturity and scholarly performance. As both hooks (1994) and Trinh (1992)
have pointed out, their lack of conformity to a prescribed manner of academic
conventions has often resulted in rejection of their work, for example, from scholarly
journals. My suspicion is further aroused by Kaufffnann et al.s inclusion of a
students comment on autonomy, saying, Self-reliance increased a great deal. I
came to the realization that if I can make it in a foreign culture, I can make it in my
own culture (p. 105). However, Kauffmann et al. warn that depression may surface
among students who have little control over their lives. I am troubled by their
cultural presuppositions, which must be exposed as acontextual, dehistoricized points
of view that fail to recognize diversity and power differentials among different
groups in the U.S.
Day-Vines (1998) dissertation on the psychosocial development of African
Americans sojourning in Africa uses cognitive development theory to demonstrate
that study-abroad opportunities stimulated racial identity development,
psychological Blackness and intercultural development in the population she
studied (p. 149). She determines that African diasporic travel promoted healthy ego
identity development through interaction with others of the same racial origin. By
becoming aware of shared cultural elements, students attain a greater sense of
psychological well-being and adjustment (p. 30). The diasporic dimension of study
abroad encourages African-American students to compare African values with their
own hyphenated ones, contrasting the values of the dominant culture in the U.S. in
light of their minority status at home. This comparison can create a dialogic and
dialectical tension among African heritage, American identity and racism in the U.S.,
in which all three coexist.
Furthermore, the author critiques Western theories of development that do
not account for the unique experiences and cultural realities of African Americans
(p. 31). These paradigms, she contends, are ahistorical, acontextual and asocial as
they universalize the process of identity development. Instead, Day-Vines (1998)
makes use of Cross Nigrescence paradigm to analyze African Americans
patrimony of slavery, racism and oppression. This distinctive model takes the
multivocality of African Americans into account, in contradistinction to their
homogeneous portrayal in the master narrative.
Day-Vines (1998) offers contradictory views. While at first she challenges
Western development theories for their universalizing, she also takes issue with
Cross model for its inability to have universal relevance or transcend culture (p.
32). She may well have a point about development theory, but I caution against any
totalizing and universalizing theory for its tendency to demean and devalue
Her study provides a vital countemarrative to the dominant discourse of
overseas study among African Americans. She sets out to compensate for the
oversights of previous studies of African Americans studying abroad, which contain
weak theoretical foundations and poorly operationalized constructs (p. 65). She
also strives to offer a postcolonial view that, according to hooks (in Day-Vines,
1998), connects] ourselves to a recuperative, redemptive memory that enables us to
construct radical identities, images of ourselves that transcend the limits of the
colonizing eye (p. 52).
The spirit of international cooperation and understanding has been advanced
as a primary goal of study abroad since World War II (Scanlon, 1990). The
formation of the Peace Corps in the 1960s was the embodiment of this altruism that
sent thousands of well-meaning U.S. citizens around the world to engage in projects
that would build knowledge and world peace.
This optimism about the purpose of international education continues at
present among international educators and student participants. It forms the basis of
most university-sponsored study-abroad programs as depicted in their informational
materials. Through international exchanges among students, scholars, governments
and businesses, it was believed that such world problems as poverty, unemployment,
war, pollution, and overpopulation could be solved or ameliorated. Saxon (1985) and
Dahrendorf (1985) assert that international education, by exposing students to
different cultures, safeguards humanity against nuclear apocalypse and counters
protectionism that can lead to conflict. Johnson (1985) proposes that the global
exchange of faculty and research is, perhaps, the only area in which cooperation is
carried out between equal partners and without a spirit of domination or hegemony
In a naive effort to valorize exchange between the Western and non-Westem
developed and developing worlds, Johnson (1985) proposes that third-world
universities should act as melting pots ... taking the best from all cultural systems
(p. 29). Marcum (1985) offers another perspective of third-world universities as
complex hybrids of history (p. 31), reflecting colonial, national and local cultural
traditions that can be analyzed to gain insight into a different intellectual and social
world. Brinner (1985) agrees with this, opining that the objective of study abroad is
to value every aspect of the great achievement of human beings over the ages (p.
My own experiences abroad were largely motivated by the desire to achieve
world harmony, equality and justice for all through intercultural communication. It
seems to me that it is more difficult to demonize or devalue what is different or
unknown once you have deconstructed the notion foreign. However, I hasten to
add that I am not referring to a surface appreciation of otherness, but rather, as I
put it in my introduction, an intersubjective dialogue among equal partners, after
Freire (1985). Internationalism must always be situated within issues of power and
politics. Thus, my construction of internationalism illustrates the unequal power
relations that have been historically maintained, within and outside the academy.
Summerflelds (1991) internationalism proposes a Latin Americanization
of U.S. campuses to connote the development of an awareness and knowledge of
Latin America (p. 121) in a collaboration that avoids a dominant-subordinate
relationship. In Giroux-like fashion, she proffers a model of education for global
responsibility (p. 123) in which the study-abroad experience is supplemented by an
extended period of campus or community action, putting theory into practice with a
lifelong commitment to Latin Americanization. (It is likely that Summerfields
idea is correlated with the influence of liberation theology prevalent in Latin
America.) It goes without saying that this model could apply in any area of the
world. In other words, Summerfield advocates a program based on reciprocity and
mutuality, and that creates new patterns of communication and interaction (p.
The purpose of international education, according to Rembert (1992), is to
build community and to encourage each participant to enter into a national dialogue
... as a world citizen (p. 47). His conceptualization acknowledges particularity,
including differences of ethnicity, gender, class, and religion, while simultaneously
possessing] a species solidarity [that] experiences the interpenetrated fabric of a
diverse world that is strengthened by its plurality, especially as it begins to discover
its unity (p. 47). In an otherwise cogent argument that valorizes difference,
multiculturalism, inclusivity, historicity, contextuality, and specificity, Rembert
lapses into a hegemonic position as he invokes the U.S. Constitution as the
embodiment of international, universal values
to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic
tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general
welfare and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our
posterity, (p. 47)
Rembert could have avoided the appearance of U.S. supremacism by citing the U.N.
charter. Instead, his call for dialogue as the goal in international education brooks
misinterpretation, coming from the worlds most dominant power with a long history
of chauvinism and imposition of its values on others.
As I noted in my historical sketch, one impetus for the development and
expansion of international education was for national security reasons. This was
apparent immediately following World War II, but became a matter of urgency to
U.S. policymakers after the launch of Sputnik in 1957. As interest in and funding for
international exchange ebbed and flowed in the 1960s and 1970s, international
education became linked to globalization. With the technological revolution and
collapse of the socialist world in the 1980s, the internationalization of capital
became more feasible, especially with only one world power capable of domination.
As more countries adopted capitalist relations of production, study abroad
was conceived as a way to tap this newly burgeoning world market. More employers
recruited prospective employees with international experience for their overseas
divisions (Jenkins, 1996; Petersons, 1996). Thus, international education became a
ticket to a stable economic future with ever-rising prospects. Jenkins and Craig
(1998) posit that employers reward graduates with international experience.
Characterizing study abroad in instrumentalist terms, Craig goes so far as to say that
it increases income potential and looks good on a resume (p. 3).
One of the results of this expansion was the introduction of students from
fields outside those generally associated with study abroad. For example, more
study-abroad advisers began to market their programs to business, engineering,
computer and science students. During my own tenure at CIEE in the late 1970s and
early 1980s, I witnessed the implementation of several programs such as business
studies in Japan, and the addition of economic and technological courses in formerly
humanities (language) and social-science programs in Europe. Edwards and Tonkin
(1990) and Fontana (1985) reinforce this by recommending that universities offer an
array of courses that would appeal to students from all disciplines and yield greater
pluralism in international education.
Putting aside my own discomfort with this new economic-imperative
direction of study abroad, I admit its potential to increase diversity among
participants who go overseas, as suggested by Edwards and Tonkin (1990) and
Fontana (1985). However, I worry that without additional changes (e.g., program and
staff diversity, outreach, financing, and addressing issues of discrimination, which
will be addressed in the Diversity in International Education section), this
repackaging is merely cosmetic and will not achieve true multiculturalism in study
abroad. Carter (1991) voices similar concerns about this paradigm shift in her plea
not to confound internationalism, which she describes as cooperation and
communication within a context of cultural diversity, with economic competition
in global markets (p. 12).
Few international educators have presented engagement as a goal of study
abroad to the extent that I do as an aspiring critical pedagogue, but my view is not
entirely without precedent. The internationalists described previously who see that
the potential of international exchange to solve world problems (Crabtree, 1998;
Dahrendorf, 1985; Jenkins, 1996; Johnson, 1985; Rembert, 1992; Saxon, 1985;
Summerfield, 1991) can be gathered in the engage camp.
Border crossing, in Girouxs (1992) sense, is how I construe engagement in a
study-abroad context. It affirms education, international or otherwise, as a project of
social change, justice, equality and liberation. This is not a modernist conception,
anchored in fixed metanarratives, transcendent truths and totalizing foundations, but
rather has been influenced by the postmodern turn and its concomitant recognition of
difference, context, historicity, and fluidity. These components of border crossing
are socially constructed, situated in power, particularistic and contingent.
Borderpedagogy, according to Giroux (1992), takes apolitical position to
address injustices while attempting to avoid duplicating means that create the
injustices in the first place (p. 4). Harmonizing with him, I connect international
education with a broader political project of democracy and emancipation.
Interestingly, international educators who expound upon the themes of social
justice and equality often tie their work to diversity in overseas exchange. Increasing
diversity in education, states Flack (1981), can lead to the type of egalitarian
relations which the U.N. charter identifies as equal sovereignty ... [i.e.,] equal
dignity, rights and representation (p. 19). Craig (1998) expands this theme to
suggest that greater diversity in international education germinates a concern in
future leaders for justice, respect and equality for all people. He suggests that in
debunk the myths and eliminate prevailing stereotypes, we must see
the world and experience the social interactions that change attitudes
and misconceptions ... Then we can actively participate in destroying
the walls of prejudice and discrimination that separate nations and
people, (p. 39)
Cole (1991) adds that expanding the base of participation in study-abroad
programs to people of color is vital to developing leaders whose very embodiment of
diversity will confront bigotry in our society.
Engagement as a goal of study abroad will be described in further detail in
Chapter 4 as this constitutes one of the key themes of this thesis and will become
obvious when I analyze study abroad through the lens of critical theory.
Achieving Greater Diversity in Study Abroad
In the next section, I set out to explicate my core topic in terms of the barriers
to minority participation in international education, concluding with
recommendations to correct the problem of underrepresentation. Therefore, before
moving on, I only wish to mention here that increasing diversity in international
exchange has become a cardinal goal for administrators of study-abroad programs,
even if its achievement falls short of its rhetoric.
Diversity in International Education: Barriers
The study-abroad literature identifies the chief obstacles to achieving
multiculturalism in international education as financing, family concerns, fears of
discrimination, location of program, staffing, and outreach.
Virtually every published study of minority participation in international
educational exchange cites financing as a barrier (Carter, 1991; CIEE, 1991; Cole,
1991; Day-Vines, 1998; Fernandez, 1993; Frey, 1994; Ganz, 1991; Hembroff and
Rusz, 1993, Jenkins, 1996; Monaghan, 1996; Spofford, 1990; and Stubbs, 1996).
Carter points to a quantitative survey performed at Northeastern University in
Boston, which is the largest private university in the U.S. with 16,000 full-time
undergraduate students (7% of whom are minorities). Of the 150 minority students
who responded to the questionnaire, 23% indicated funding as an impediment to
overseas study. Reid (1995) adds that family income level and socioeconomic status
also influence the decision to study abroad. He found that historically
underrepresented ethnic groups tend to come from poorer and lower-status
backgrounds than the typical study-abroad participant.
The financial barrier also has the most obvious solution: provide more money
to minorities for international education. While most universities allow students to
apply their financial aid to international programs, this may not be sufficient. Due to
the spiraling costs of a university education and the federal governments cutbacks in
financial aid, many students work while they attend college. When a student leaves a
job to study abroad, the lost income is generally not supplemented by increased
financial aid as no increase in tuition or fees is incurred. Without special provisions
to award additional funding for study abroad, such experiences may be beyond the
reach of many minority students, given the income disparity between most minorities
and that of the dominant culture.
In 1991, CIEE recommended tapping into alternative university resources,
such as affirmative action offices and ethnic organizations, which could target
minorities. However, in light of the 1995 Supreme Court ruling that struck down
affirmative action (Adarand Construction, Inc. v. Pena), this approach would be
rendered null and void unless a university inaugurates its own policies to override
this judgment. There are some promising developments in this direction.
The University of Michigan intends to defend its affirmative action policy in
a lawsuit brought by the Center for Individual Rights. The university has called upon
prominent scholars in the social sciences to create a booklet that develops a
theoretical basis for advocating affirmative action (Schmidt, 1999). Other colleges
and universities in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas have formulated creative
reactions to the 1996 Hopwood ruling that ends preferences for achieving student
diversity, in an effort to preserve affirmative action (Healy, 1998). The University of
Wisconsin designed a Plan 2008 that includes increasing minority staff and
faculty, developing more recruitment programs aimed at minorities in elementary
and secondary schools and increasing library holdings for ethnic-studies courses
(Selingo, 1998, A41). Finally, many law schools continue to refuse campus access to
military recruiters, based on the Pentagons discrimination against gays and lesbians,
and despite passage of the Solomon Amendment in 1997 that bans federal funding to
universities who prevent such access to military recruiters (Cordes, 1998).
These efforts to uphold nondiscrimination and valorize the voices and lives of
marginalized groups must be lauded, especially in the face of lawsuits and financial
cutoffs by hegemonic powers that threaten their existence.
For students with disabilities, availability of funds is crucial. While the
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 mandates increased access to higher
education for individuals with disabilities, the law makes no provision for
international compliance with ADA for such students who wish to study overseas,
though it does insist upon reasonable accommodation. A 1992 ruling by the U.S.
Department of Educations Office of Civil Rights mandated that special services
must be provided for U.S. students who want to study abroad. However, this case has
not been tested in federal court (Rubin, 1996). No matter how it may be ruled on
appeal, the law lacks any requirement to fund such services.
A few universities have taken it upon themselves to grant people with
disabilities the same access to study abroad available to non-disabled students. For
example, the University of Califomia-Berkeley paid a reader to accompany a blind
student to Australia and a notetaker who went to Cairo with a quadriplegic student.
The University of Lancaster in England actively recruits students with disabilities,
but this seems to be more the exception than the rule (Rubin, 1996).
Mobility International USA (MIUSA), whose mission is to encourage and
promote the participation of people with disabilities into all types of international
educational experiences (Sygall, 1996, p. 25), has received $450,000 from the
United States Information Agency to operate a clearinghouse for information and
resources (Rubin, 1996). MIUSA also serves as a training center for organizations
that want to include people with disabilities (Sygall).
Thus, if universities are sincere about increasing the diversity of their
international-education programs, they must commit substantial financial resources
of their own and locate alternative funding sources to this end.
Family Concerns. Fear of Discrimination
and Program Location
I discuss these issues together because they present significant and
interconnected barriers for minority groups. Very often the lack of family support
for study abroad is linked to fears that their family members may suffer
discrimination in a potentially hostile environment. As 75% of all U.S. overseas
programs are located in Western Europe (Cooper, 1991), this fear is not unrealistic.
Anti-foreign incidents in Western Europe, expressed both verbally and physically,
are reported on a regular basis in the U.S. media, fostering an understandable
concern among minorities considering a sojourn abroad. To compound the program,
the negative picture painted of the non-Western world as dangerous and unstable also
deters members of underrepresented groups from pursuing international education
(Cooper, in Frey, 1994).
These worries, then, are directly related to program location. For example, a
familys fear of animosity abroad might be assuaged if their family member were to
select a friendly environment free from negative stereotypes or essentialist
constructions of its cultural group. Involving the families of prospective study-abroad
participants is one suggestion for surmounting the lack of family support (Fernandez,
1993). Proactive outreach by means of mailings, phone calls and home visits could
explain the content and structure of the program and address these concerns head on.
Reid (1995) supports Fernandezs contention that family dynamics correlate directly
with a students decision to study abroad.
Study-abroad program location is of paramount importance. If universities
offered more varied sites, particularly in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, they could
dramatically increase diversity in study abroad (CIEE, 1991; Frey, 1994; Jenkins,
1996). Fernandez (1993) and Day-Vines (1998) advise promoting study abroad to
minorities by offering programs to areas where students are in contact with their
ancestral culture of origin (Day-Vines, p. 29). Furthermore, Day-Vines reveals the
positive impact of African diasporic travel on the psychosocial development of
African Americans students, consistent with Reids findings.
Zwana (1988) raises concerns about the skewing of study-abroad programs at
the State University of New York (SUNY) in favor of European destinations. He
reports that a non-scientific survey of students enrolled in African-American
studies indicated that over 90% ... would participate in an overseas study program in
Africa and the Caribbean if and when such opportunities were granted (p. 59).
When he raised this concern with university officials, Zwana was greeted with
lethargy and indifference since the matter was of no direct value to Caucasians, so it
was stated (p. 59). Thus, situating study-abroad programs in non-traditional
locations is a good predictor for attracting minority students that could result in
greater diversity in international education.
Program Staffing and Outreach
The monochromatic appearance of international education dissuades non-
dominant groups from seeking participation in study-abroad programs. This is
reflected in both staff and program materials. A universitys policy and financial
commitment to greater staff diversity is central to the task of broadening overseas
study to traditionally underrepresented populations (Hembroff and Rusz, 1993;
Monaghan, 1994). As affirmative action is dismantled, this problem becomes more
salient. Additionally, program recruitment must directly address minority concerns,
and printed information should reflect the multicultural composition of the world in
which we live (CIEE, 1991).
In an effort to increase diversity in overseas study, Spofford (1990)
recommends extensive outreach to all students. For example, study-abroad advisors
should give presentations at first-year required courses to recruit applicants and to
debunk myths about study abroad. Key selling points to be made are: not all
programs require a language other than English; financial aid is applicable for study
abroad at most universities; students wont sacrifice time as credits are transferable;
and the cost is very often equal to or less than remaining at the home campus. All
students should be followed up with several contacts. Based on her review of the
Northeastern University survey, Carter (1991) indicated that 55% of respondents
were unaware of any international education programs offered by the university.
Thus, greater efforts to publicize these programs to the entire spectrum of potential
participants is essential.
Goodwin and Nacht (in Frey, 1994) state that since the current [study
abroad] structure is largely the creation of upper middle class White Americans of
Western European extraction, it is unattractive to minorities (p. 15). Frey invokes
Cole and Trujillo who document biased treatment minority students have received
from Euro-American faculty and staff and the impact this has on educational and
professional careers. (It would have been interesting to read a comparison of
treatment of minorities by minority faculty.) Thus, the university environment itself
can discourage interest in study abroad among non-dominant groups.
Proponents of international education suggest that community colleges offer
the potential to widen the pool of participants in study-abroad programs (Greenfield,
1990), as they instruct the largest number of minority students in the U.S.
Community colleges are the doorway to higher learning for the majority of...
minorities, as well as immigrants and first-generation citizens, and to cross-cultural
understanding for enormously diverse adult student populations... (King and Fersh,
1992, p. 7). There are six million students enrolled in credit classes in community
classes, and four million more enrolled in non-credit classes. This largely untapped
student body, together with the establishment of the National Security Act of 1991
that allocated $150 million for undergraduate study abroad, should provide increased
opportunities to draw minorities into overseas study (King and Fersh, p. 3).
Edwards and Tonkin (1990) advocate linking community college curricula
with local ethnic communities and international organizations in an effort to promote
interest in internationalization both at home and abroad. They also recommend that
study-abroad programs offer an array of courses that would appeal to students from
all disciplines, such as tai qi (also written as tai chi) in nursing classes or
photovoltaic energy conversion in developing countries (p. 18). Fersh (1990) adds
that courses such as biological methods of childbirth and delivery in other
countries and African perspectives of mental health serve to promote diversity.
Fontana (1985) advises restructuring study-abroad programs to attract more science
and technology students, as this may also yield greater pluralism in international
education. These suggestions are well-conceived to foster multicultural participation
in a variety of fields.
Hembroff and Rusz (1993) ascribe low African-American participation rates
in overseas study, which generally occurs in the third year or later, to their relatively
high dropout rates early in their university career. These investigators propose
efforts to improve the overall academic performance of minorities in order to reduce
attrition. Fernandez recommends early recruiting, and cooperating with minority
student organizations, high schools and minority organizations in the larger
community. Finally, several researchers identify monolingualism as a barrier to
greater minority participation in study abroad, which could be countered by
encouraging foreign language study (Carter, 1991; Hembroff and Rusz; Jenkins,
I conclude this section by reiterating a series of recommendations by CIEE
(1991) intended to help study-abroad advisors increase the enrollment of
underrepresented ethnic minorities: (1) funding-to include financial aid, travel
grants, tuition waivers; (2) reassurance that study abroad is not exclusive; this can
be accomplished through greater staff diversity, informational materials that address
minorities concerns, and outreach to students and their families; (3) promotion -
informational materials, presentations, minority peer counselors and networking;
(4) programs develop programs in non-Western countries that may appeal to
underrepresented groups, with varying duration for those whose finances and
schedules may otherwise not allow participation; (5) goal setting establish a level
of multicultural participation that is proportionate to minority representation on
campus; (6) data collection track and publish information on minority students
who study abroad, including financial aid data, location of study, majors, etc.
Noticeably absent from the barriers cited throughout this section is any
mention of racism, classism and homophobia that may also contribute to low
participation rates among non-dominant groups. These issues will be dissected in
Chapter 4, using a postmodern critical theory that analyzes issues of power, politics
In this chapter I will delineate the theoretical formulations that constitute the
corpus of my thesis: critical theory/critical pedagogy and multiculturalism (in its
various representations). My aim is to synthesize the contributions of various
scholars, setting the stage for a theoretically-grounded analysis of study abroad in
Critical Theorv/Critical Pedagogy
Critical theory is an attempt to understand the oppressive aspects of
society in order to generate the conditions for change and
empowerment of those who have been silenced and invisible. Critical
theorists assert that all knowledge is socially and historically
determined and a consequence of power. Theory is not simply the
quest to understand life but to change it. (Tierney, 1997, p. 4)
Critical theory is a framework, a philosophical positioning, that examines
social, political, economic and other constructed institutions in the context of
power (empowerment), politics and advocacy/social change. It generally refers to
the contributions of Adorno, Horkheimer and Marcuse, founders of the Frankfurt
School, and later Habermas, and is associated with neo-Marxism, feminism,
materialism, and liberation theology, as well as with certain strains of
postmodernism, poststructuralism and postcolonialism. At once both a theory and a
research methodology, critical theory connects the issues of justice, oppression,
power relations, history, and language; it rejects the positivist ideal of the objective
researcher. In the post-Frankfurt era, the researchers own subjectivity and
positionality play a prominent role in critical theory (Kincheloe and McLaren, 1994).
According to Lincoln (in Guba and Lincoln, 1994):
The aim of inquiry is the critique and transformation of the social,
political, cultural, economic, ethnic, and gender structures that
constrain and exploit humankind, by engagement in confrontation,
even conflict. The criterion for progress is that over time, restitution
and emancipation should occur and persist. Advocacy and activism
are key concepts. The inquirer is cast in the role of instigator and
facilitator, implying that the inquirer understands a priori what
transformations are needed, (p. 113)
Critical theory is not a monolithic body of thought. As Kincheloe and
McLaren (1994) make clear, critical theory should not be treated as a universal
grammar of revolutionary thought objectified and reduced to discrete formulaic
pronouncements or strategies (p. 139). What unites critical theorists are a critique of
positivism, an opposition to the fact/value dichotomy, a belief that knowledge is
socially constructed, the recognition that all human relations are relations of power,
and a project of emancipation. For example, Habermas is a critical theorist who
provides continuity with modernism in his refusal to relinquish all validity claims
and his search for a universal morality, beliefs that are rejected by the most radical
postmodernists. Yet, Habermas, Horkheimer and Adomo are critical of certain
elements of modernism, such as when reason is used to justify social domination and
oppression. For the purposes of this paper, I am drawing upon those aspects of
critical theory that enable me to analyze international education as a discourse that
reflects relations of power, in an effort to promote a transformation of education in
the name of equality and democracy.
Critical pedagogy is a branch of critical theory, which applies its analysis to
education, schools and schooling by injecting them with discourses on
empowerment, politics, social justice and equality (McLaren, 1995). Critical
pedagogy overturns schooling as a neutral, ahistorical locus. Instead, it views
education as laden with ideological, social, political and cultural constructions.
According to McLaren, one of the central tasks of critical pedagogy is to foreground
social and self-empowerment over epistemology or skills training. These latter, for
McLaren, are ethical concerns. Critical pedagogy commits itself to forms of
learning and action that are undertaken in solidarity with subordinated and
marginalized groups and is embodied in the language of possibility (pp. 32-33). It
unabashedly carries on the work of the left, even in the Cold Wars aftermath.
In this section I elaborate on the broad themes of critical theory and critical
pedagogy that form the basis of my deconstruction of international education in
Chapter 4. These include: power and politics; knowledge; postmodernism and
poststructuralism (touching on such topics as marginalization, difference,
subjectivity, identity, binary oppositions, and resistance); and social change, social
justice, and liberation. In this discussion, I will not distinguish between critical
theory and critical pedagogy, and I alternate between the terms. For me, critical
pedagogy is the application of critical theory to the educational realm.
Power and Politics
Critical theory is primarily concerned with relations of power, which are at
work in all human institutions and discourses, including international education.
Chief among its concerns are who has power, who doesnt have it, where it resides,
how it is exercised, and what its implications are. Power connotes legitimacy, choice,
oppression and freedom. It is those in power who produce the dominant discourse or
master narrative, i.e., the normative, totalizing discussion on education, morality,
class, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, history, and law. However, power relations are not
only imposed from above. They can also be expressed by consensus, acceding to be
governed, and other insidious ways. As Gramsci notes in his exposition of
hegemony, power is just as readily exercised by consent as by coercion (McLaren,
Fischman, Serra & Antelo, 1998).
Domination is one manifestation of power. According to Giroux (in Freire,
1985), it is a set of ideological and material practices replete with contradictions
and always contested (p. xii). For example, the dominant discourse on the political
economy privileges capitalist relations of production over socialist or communist
ones; it awards heterosexuality primacy over homosexuality in sexual relations. In
the relations of power in the U.S., the culture of White, heterosexual males is
valorized over the culture of others (non-Whites, homosexuals, and women). By
laying bare the construction of and ability to wield power, critical theory has
enormous implications for multiculturalism in international education.
Within critical theory, feminism is credited with devising a paradigm to
critique the asymmetrical power relations that legitimate oppression (Giroux, 1992;
hooks, 1994; McLaren, 1995, 1997). Feminists accomplished this task by
challenging the patriarchal canon and the mind/body dichotomy (hooks). Such
scholars as Mitchell (1974) and Chodorow (1989) have reinterpreted Freud; Gilligan
(1977) has problematized Kohlbergs theory of moral development; and the French
poststructural feminists further contributed to the rethinking of power as an a priori
Power can serve to empower or to silence. In this sense, it has both positive
and negative valence. It can be expressed overtly as governmental repression, or
covertly as technology, schools and other self-oppressing cultural phenomena that
reify a dominant ideology. Likewise, it can enact a project of liberation and justice,
such as by developing international exchange programs that engage in intersubjective
dialogue among all participants, valorizing difference, hooks (1994) expresses
similar ideas about power. For her, whats important is how one chooses to exercise
power. Freire (1985) adds that power can be enacted as a form of resistance that
leads to self-empowerment and liberation. He also views power as dialectical, i.e.,
both negative and positive, which is at the basis of all forms of behavior in which
people resist, struggle, and fight for their image of a better world (Giroux in Freire,
p. xix). Although power is omnipresent, its existence enacts the possibility of
resistance, adds Foucault, disputing the notion that power is merely a means to
oppress (Best and Kellner, 1991).
Power is also reflected in the interplay between the pedagogical and the
political. Schools are not apolitical sites concerned solely with the neutral
production of knowledge. They conduct their work within historical, economic
[and] political contexts (Freire, 1985, p. 12). Therefore, any claims of political
neutrality in schooling are tantamount to defense of the dominant ideology and serve
to silence those who lie outside the master narrative. Affirming politics in education
acknowledges the multivocality of teachers and learners in order to address injustice
and self-empowerment (Giroux, 1992; hooks, 1994; McLaren, 1997). hooks avers
that the very concept of neutrality can create an unsafe environment for people of
color. Race, ethnicity, sex, class and gender are inescapably politicized and must be
It follows that education, as a site for the production of knowledge, cannot be
separated from the power that constitutes it (Freire, 1985, p. 170). Peters (1996)
adds that critical educators must address unequal power relations in their teaching
practices, just as scientists need to do in their research to correct this power disparity.
To my mind, this is particularly true for those involved in international education.
Critical pedagogy is more than just an epistemological concern. It is the
nexus of the issues of power, ethics and politics (Giroux, 1992, p. 76). The ethics
of critical pedagogy valorizes alterity, fluid identities and multiple histories, and
opposes a universalizing, totalizing, monolithic culture. Incorporating critical
pedagogy in international education would reformulate study abroad as a political
project of a radical multiculturalism that encourages border crossing (p. 81). In
this philosophical framework, knowledge is contingent, contextual and particular.
Postcolonialism is another strain of critical theory by which power can be
parsed. It provides a framework that politicizes the notion of difference (linguistic
markedness in social terms: non-White, non-male, non-Westem, non-heterosexual),
thereby opposing the essentializing aspects of the master narrative, hooks (1990)
identifies the colonizer/colonized paradigm in her observation that few nonwhite
scholars are being awarded grants to investigate and study all aspects of white culture
from a standpoint of difference, in contrast to White scholars whose works about
non-Whites receive much attention and acclaim (p. 55).
Postcolonialism does not only arise at an intersection of Western and non-
Westem practices. Any discourse in which one group marginalizes (or colonizes)
another is postcolonialist (Giroux, 1992; McLaren, 1995), whether it be Pax
Americana since World War II, the treatment of certain immigrants, the legacy of
slavery, or the deliberate or inadvertent exclusion of minorities from study abroad.
Postcolonial pedagogy repudiates apolitical and ahistorical definitions. Putting an
end to silencing by the dominant culture, it demands the recognition of a politics of
difference based on self-definition and equality. Thus, postcolonialism is another
discourse of empowerment.
For me, understanding power from a critical theory perspective is crucial in
order to resist an oppressive metanarrative that valorizes the White, heterosexual
male and essentializes the other. If educators and intellectuals ignore power and
politics in their pedagogy, they continue to instantiate the social practices of the
dominant culture and exclude marginalized groups in the decision- and meaning-
making of everyday social and political life. Teachers, and study-abroad
administrators, have a special responsibility to wield their power in order to open a
dialogue that connects issues of education with increased diversity and
Production and Location of Knowledge
In critical theory, knowledge is a socially, historically and dialectically
constmcted process. It is concerned with learning as the formation of educated,
informed citizens, and promotes a project of justice, equality and freedom for all
individuals, regardless of class, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, race, country of
origin or religion (Freire, 1985, 1970/1997; Freire & Giroux in Giroux & Simon,
1989; hooks, 1994; John, 1991; McLaren, 1995, 1997; Tierney, 1997).
I have shown that critical theory implicates knowledge in power and
envisions the transformation of social practices toward self-empowerment.
Knowledge and learning must challenge the hegemonic assumptions that relegate
non-dominant groups to the periphery of history, economics, politics and society.
Giroux (1992) asserts that the relationship between power and knowledge on the
one hand, and the self and others on the other, is as much an issue of ethics and
politics as it is of epistemology (p. 26).
Critical pedagogy can be used to lay bare the essentialist, universalizing and
Eurocentric epistemologies from the Enlightenment that still hold sway. A central
tenet of modernism is that universal reason is the foundation for knowledge.
Modernist thought also asserts a unitary subject as the agent of historical
progressive change (Peters, 1996, p. 2). Schooling was centered around these
organizing principles in the belief that it would shape productive citizens and
workers, much as Freud postulated the resolution of the Oedipal complex as a
necessary precondition for civilization. In contrast, critical theory, according to
Hollinger (1995), upholds knowledge that recognizes the contingent, temporally and
socially situated character of our beliefs and values, of our institutions and practices
Critical theory posits the co-construction of knowledge by equally knowing
subjects for the purpose of transforming society. It deplores the elevation of
educators knowledge over that of their learners, and eschews any pedagogy that
reifies any dominant discourse. Instead, critical educators affirm each individuals
subjectivity, particularly of those who are oppressed (Giroux, in Freire, 1985).
Freire (1970/1997; 1985) advances such an epistemology, which draws from
the experiences of teachers and learners. He contrasts this conceptualization with
what he calls the banking of education, in which learners are depositories of
educators knowledge (p. 100). Thus, Freire uncloaks the subject/object dichotomy
between the teacher as active transmitter and student as passive recipient. It is the
educators duty to engage the learner so that, together, they reach a more critical
view of their existential condition.
The role of the educator qua intellectual and the learner qua intellectual,
enmeshed in dialogue as equals, creates the conditions for knowledge as
transformation to take place. Giroux (1992) calls these educators transformative
intellectuals (p. 15), who insert their own politics into classroom discourse and
engage students in critical inquiry, acknowledge the educational philosophies that
guide their curriculum and policies, and exercise their power to prepare students for
This intersubjective dialogue owes much to Gramscis proposition that all
people are intellectuals by virtue of their ability to interpret and give meaning to the
world (Giroux in Freire, 1985, p. xxi). Using Gramscis formulation, Freire depicts
the organic intellectual as someone from an oppressed group who sheds the
constraints of the dominant ideology, in order to change ones material and social
conditions. Unlike the organic intellectual, who comes from the ranks of the
oppressed, the traditional intellectual hails from a more privileged class, but opposes
hegemony by seeking common cause with the subjugated class (McLaren et al.,
1998). Based on this description, I place minority participants in international
education into the organic intellectual category. By collaborating with program
administrators (or traditional intellectuals), these empowered partners seek to change
the modus operandi of study abroad.
Once subjectivity is established, intellectuals committed to oppose
domination develop conscientizagao, a word coined by Freire (1985) to denote the
process in which [people], not as recipients, but as knowing subjects achieve a
deepening awareness both of the sociocultural reality that shapes their lives and of
their capacity to transform that reality (p. 93). Thus, humans are agents able to
conceptualize their world and their reality by critically participating in transforming
acts, welding theory and praxis in their struggle for liberation.
Peters (1996) relates this self-reflectivity to Foucaults construction of the
intellectual, whose role is to sap power, take power, struggle for power, and not
speak for others (p. 57). Much like the traditional intellectual in Gramscis schema,
Foucaults intellectual offers a counter-discourse, following the lead of the
oppressed group. While I think Chow (in McLaren, 1997) goes too far in implicating
any academic advancement with oppression, she debunks the position of the
academic intellectual rather pithily:
What academic intellectuals must confront is ... not their
victimization by society at large (or their victimization-in-
solidarity-with-the-oppressed), but the power, wealth, and privilege
that ironically accumulate from their oppositional viewpoint, and
the widening gap between the professed contents of their works and
the upward mobility they gain from such words. (When Foucault said
intellectuals need to struggle against becoming the object and
instrument of power, he spoke precisely to this kind of situation.)
Despite the technological capabilities of the Internet and other information-
sharing systems, the academy as the site of knowledge production continues to play a
pivotal role in critical theory. Thus, institutions must engage in critical pedagogy
with regard to staffing, policies and interaction with students in order to enact
democratic pluralism. Educational institutions should be places where knowledge is
shared through both student and teacher narratives that valorize the diverse
knowledges and histories they bring to the classroom (hooks, 1994; Mohanty in
hooks; Tierney, 1997). This pedagogy should be conducted as a practice of freedom
that disrupts the stranglehold the dominant class maintains on knowledge and values,
as hooks exemplifies in the case of a professor who includes Toni Morrisons work
in a syllabus, but refuses to talk about race. Such silencing reinstantiates colonial
The academy must be taken to task for dichotomizing knowledges,
privileging some while delegitimizing others, hooks (1994) critiques the way theory
is propounded in the academy to produce intellectual class hierarchy (p. 64), and
results in silencing those who dont theorize along prescribed lines. Furthermore,
she problematizes the university as the primary venue for theoretical work.
However, her commitment to critical theoretical work is unshaken:
Just as some elite academics who construct theories of blackness in
ways that make it a critical terrain which only the chosen few can
enter using theoretical work on race to assert their authority over
black experience, denying democratic access to the process of theory
making threaten collective black liberation struggle, so do those
among us who react to this by promoting anti-intellectualism by
declaring all theory as worthless. By reinforcing the idea that there is
a split between theory and practice or by creating such a split, both
groups deny the power of liberatory education for critical
consciousness, thereby perpetuating conditions that reinforce our
collective exploitation and repression, (pp. 68-69)
West (in McLaren, 1997) declares the need to address aspects of the
exclusionary and repressive effect of White academic institutions and humanistic
scholarship as well as the rampant xenophobia of bourgeois humanism
predominant in the whole academy (p. 62). Likewise, hooks (in McLaren, 1997)
explains that, to become intellectuals, Black women must decolonize their minds
McLaren (1997) urges that these discourses about and within the academy be
extended to include indigenous people, gays and lesbians (p. 64), and other
marginalized groups. Responding to the demise of affirmative action and the passage
of xenophobic anti-immigration legislation (e.g., Californias Proposition 187, that
cuts off benefits to undocumented immigrants, most of them Latino), McLaren calls
for research to be conducted in the areas of race, gender, and socioeconomic status
... [and relationship to] capitalist exploitation and cultural production of workers (p.
In my estimation, schools must become loci of diversity and communication,
where all participants enter into genuine dialogue to promote a pedagogy of freedom
and border crossing (Giroux, 1992; McLaren, 1995, 1997). This approach to teaching
effects a pedagogy of resistance and emancipation, and encompasses a decentering of
the center while broadening the multicultural plane so that it resounds with new
voices. I agree with Giroux that Border pedagogy enables teachers to develop a
deeper dialectical self-critical understanding of limits, partiality and particularity of
their own politics, values and pedagogy and become border crossers (p. 34).
Postmodernism and Poststructuralism
Both postmodernism and poststructuralism have contributed to the liberation
project of critical theory. These three terms (postmodernism, poststructuralism and
critical theory) are neither mutually exclusive nor completely interchangeable.
Postmodernism is a discourse that disputes the philosophical foundationalism and
universalism of modernism, replacing them with historicity, contingency and
contextuality. It is not a repudiation of all modernist thinking, as both Derrida
(1978) and Foucault (1984) make clear.
Lyotard (in Seidman, 1994) defines postmodernism as incredulity toward
metanarratives (p. 27), making it more than a theory, but a larger phenomenon that
addresses the crisis of certainty and representation (Seidman, p. 8), and that
contests all binary oppositions that are linguistically, socially, politically and
culturally constructed (Best and Kellner, 1991; Seidman).
Poststructuralism is considered a branch of postmodernism that represents a
radicalization of Saussurean structuralism. It dismantles the fixity of the signifier-
signified relationship, and emphasizes the role of language and discourses in
shaping subjectivity, social institutions and politics (Seidman, 1994, p. 18). Thus,
poststructuralism examines the social construction of language and all texts that are
ripe for deconstruction. While structuralism shows an antihumanist face
emphasizing systems that exist outside of human consciousness, poststructuralism
returns to a focus on the historicity of the individual and subjectivity, freed from the
totalizing tendencies of modernism.
Deconstruction, coined by Derrida, is a postmodern, poststructural process of
decentering the sign (both signified and signifier) that permits an infinite number of
significations, creating a play of difference, or gaps, in all texts that is
supplemented by traces. These traces, although arbitrary and conventional, are
effects of linguistic coding that enable the user to decipher or understand meaning
and to create a language of possibility (Caputo, 1997, p. 104). This language of
possibility, with its infinite significations, challenges the immutability of language
and all texts, arguing against totalization, dichotomization, and essentialism. Through
a close, classical reading of a text, deconstruction requires a second, disruptive
reading in order to use the text itself, and its internal differences, to engender its own
deconstruction. Thus, this theory/method is a powerful tool for destabilizing
logocentrist, dualistic thought, and has important implications and applications for all
the human sciences, including international educational policy (Caputo; Derrida,
This brief discussion of postmodernism, poststructuralism and deconstruction
provides an introduction to this section. It is not my intention to present in detail
their convergences and divergences with critical theory, nor do I attempt to explain
these highly nuanced ways of thinking that are expounded by many scholars with
conflicting accounts (Baudrillard, Bauman, Derrida, Foucault, Fraser, Jameson,
Laclau, Lyotard, Mouffe, Rorty, to name a few). Instead, my purpose is to illustrate
the usefulness of these approaches in my presentation of such concepts as
marginalization, subjectivity, difference, resistance, identity, duality, historicity,
linguistics, particularism and essentialism, within the context of power, politics and
liberation in this study of multiculturalism in international education. To accomplish
this, I will interweave these related constructs throughout my discussion, as do the
authors whose works I have selected for review. I aim to show how these scholars
have adapted and critiqued postmodernism and poststructuralism toward critical
pedagogy, the new prism through which I view international education.
To reiterate, postmodernism is a crisis of certainty and representation that
challenges a universalizing, totalizing dominant discourse. It seeks to insert the
narratives of marginalized groups whose histories and voices have been traditionally
silenced. Critical pedagogy breaks down this marginalization, which Freire (1985)
calls an act of violence (p. 47) because this peripheral position is not freely chosen
by subjects, but rather is imposed by a center whose locus can only be determined
in relation to the margins. Peters (1996) seconds Freires concern in his discussion of
who speaks for whom as a political question. He also considers speaking for an
act of violence.
Freires work in literacy challenges such a representation of difference in
which those who arent literate are objectified and marginalized by those who are.
Critical education contests this binarism through a problem-posing dialogue in which
illiterate members of society are constructed as subjects equal to their teachers. This
goes to the heart of critical theory, as Freire (1970/1997) states succinctly:
This task implies that revolutionary leaders do not go to the people in
order to bring them a message of salvation, but in order to come to
know through dialogue with them both their objective situation and
their awareness of that situation the various levels of perception of
themselves and of the world in which and with which they exist. One
cannot expect positive results from an educational or political action
program which fails to respect the particular view of the world held
by the people, (p. 76)
This concept of education as problem-posing dialogue invokes
poststructuralism for Freire (1970/1997): to speak is to transform the world (p. 68).
It also reaffirms the role of human agency in praxis, and melds Girouxs
transformative intellectual with Freires Gramscian organic intellectual, who is
capable of effecting revolutionary change through language as dialogue, allowing
participants to reflect upon the world and act upon it (p. 106).
Thus, I draw on Freire (1985) for his liberatory mode of education (p. 102)
embodied in his dialogical theory of action (Freire, 1970/1997), which includes:
cooperation and intersubjective communication;
unity for liberation;
organization highly educational process in which leaders and people
together experience true authority and freedom, by transformation;
cultural synthesis a mode of action to confront culture and act on social
structure; a dialectical process (pp. 148-164).
Freire and Giroux (in Giroux, Simon and Contributors, 1989) elaborate on
this idea of dialogue as follows:
[SJchools are somebodys story, and must recognize multiple
narratives and histories that make pluralistic societies; learning is not
only about acquisition of knowledge, but also the production of social
practices which provide students with a sense of place, identity, worth
and value, (p. ix)
This is the approach I want to apply to international education in order to achieve
Postmodernism in the classroom connotes difference that can be valorized for
its multivocality, so that all voices are heard and shared (Giroux, 1992; hooks, 1994).
As noted in the previous section, student and teacher narratives are a means to enact
resistance to the dominant discourse that silences the other. Narratives employ
language for liberation, hooks recounts how the use of Black vernacular is often
devalued in the classroom and censored in academic journals. She promotes its
usage, as well as the practice of other non-standard varieties of English and other
languages, to disrupt the narrative of the oppressor and to transgress and cross
boundaries (p. 167). hooks quotes a line from Adrienne Richs poem, The Burning
of Paper Instead of Children, which states, This is the oppressors language yet I
need it to talk to you to illustrate linguistic hegemony. Language is socially
constructed, historical and contingent, creating a reality that can be emancipatory or
The shifting of signifiers also plays a role in the postmodemist-
poststructuralist turn. By this means, one escapes the essentializing construction of
subjectivity and identity. Hollinger (1995) posits a postethnic perspective that
allows individuals to choose their affiliations, in much the same way people
choose religion. This construct disrupts the fixity of identity, and promotes multiple
identities and the dynamic and changing character of groups (p. 3). His premise
invokes the postmodernist concept that emphasizes particularity over universalism.
Hollinger notes that when we accept our own historical particularity, we shy away
from essentialist constructions of human nature, from transcendentalist arguments
about it, and from timeless rules for justifying claims about it (p. 60). He credits
postmodernism with challenging ethnicity as equivalent to marginalization, which it
replaces with respect and equality in difference (p. 64).
Postmodern critical pedagogy also destabilizes the high culture/popular
culture binary opposition that has silenced and marginalized alterity. Giroux (1992)
views education as a site and form of cultural politics (p. 189) that allows
individuals to create and develop subjectivities through the practice of popular
culture and border crossing. Postmodernism enables the other to reclaim his/her
own history and voice whether through popular culture, dialogue or other narrative.
It does so by problematizing the epistemological and ontological assumptions of
modernist metanarratives, inserting constructions of race, class, ethnicity, gender,
sexual orientation, physical ability, and age into the discourse. Rap music is an apt
illustration of popular culture that resists the dominant discourse, literally sampling
other musics while it foregrounds a self-consciously African-American style of
Through popular culture, critical pedagogy replaces a construction of
knowledge that is totalizing and ahistoric with one that recognizes the
interrelationship between power and knowledge and that is particularistic, contextual,
multivocalic and historic. Giroux (1992) expresses his concern:
At stake here is both the rewriting of history within a politics of
difference that substitutes totalizing narratives of oppression with
local and multiple narratives, that assert their identities as part of a
broader reconstruction of democratic life. (p. 56)
Postmodernism is a healthy suspiciousness of all boundary-fixing and the
hidden ways in which we subordinate, exclude, and marginalize (Bernstein, in
Giroux, 1992, p. 124). It opens up new public space (Yeatman, in Peters, 1996, p.
12) with its deconstruction of universality, reason, consensus and the modernist
notion of subjectivity. Mouffe (in Peters) calls for a theory of the subject as a
decentered, detotalized agent, a subject constructed at the point of intersection of a
multiplicity of subject-positions between which there exists no a priori or necessary
relation (p. 47). Carby (in Giroux) credits postmodern African-American feminists
with shifting the discourse from the margins to the construction of the center (p.
127). Previously, this deflection from its own construction allowed the dominant
culture to formulate binary and essentializing conceptions of the other.
Girouxs (1992) border pedagogy of postmodern resistance (p. 173) is a
critical analysis of all texts as socially, historically and politically constructed,
reflecting a specific knowledge/power dynamic, rather than the promulgation of
universal truths. Postmodern critical pedagogy seeks to eliminate all barriers that
undermine and subvert the construction of a democratic society (Giroux, p. 141).
However, postmodernism is critiqued by some for its emphasis on difference,
marginalization and identity. Pickering (in Peters, 1996) faults postmodernism for
failing to arrive at an adequate political theory of human agency. While he
acknowledges postmodernisms usefulness in fighting oppressive discourses through
a representation of difference, Pickering maintains that such thinking relegates
humans to the role of interpreters of life-worlds (p. 55). McLaren (1997) also
describes the limitations of postmodernism for the insufficient attention it pays to
issues of power and political economy. In this sense, postmodernism runs the risk of
reifying the status quo (capitalist relations of production) or, worse, being
appropriated by the right-wing conservative movement (McLaren, 1995).
Both hooks (1994) and McLaren (1997) highlight the importance of naming -
experiences, identities, reality in critical pedagogy. Thus, claims McLaren, a
project of critical education is to wrest the prerogative of naming from the 1% of the
population who control the rest (p. 23). In this discussion, McLaren makes an
important distinction between identity and subjectivity. He associates identity with
the modernist, essentializing project of universalism and fixed attributes.
Subjectivity, however, defies an essence, is socially constructed and contingent, and
must be situated ideologically, and not simply discursively (McLaren, 1995, p. 97).
Thus, subjectivity is always implicated within and by power.
Though much more could be said about the intersection of postmodernism
and critical theory/critical pedagogy, there is no better summation than McLarens
(1997) own words about critical pedagogy in its postmodernist form to crystallize
almost all the salient features of the philosophy:
In short, we need a critical pedagogy of language and experience in
which the categories of understanding differences and otherness do
not prohibit other differences from being named. We need a language
that can help serve as an instrument for the students discursive self-
shaping and as a means for producing a collective political subject.
This language is one that must be simultaneously engaged by
students, deployed in strategic ways by teachers and cultural workers,
and transformed in the interests of developing greater educational,
political, economic, and cultural justice, (p. 39)
Social Change. Justice and Liberation
At the outset of this section, I stated that critical theory and critical pedagogy
entail advocacy and social change in a project of liberation (Freire, 1970/1997, 1985;
Giroux, 1992; Giroux, Simon & Contributors, 1993; hooks, 1994; John, 1991;
Kincheloe and McLaren, 1994; McLaren, 1997, 1995; Peters, 1996; Tierney, 1997).
As a tool, critical pedagogy questions the foundations of modernist education, with
its universal, rational subject at the center. This Enlightenment discourse reifies a
Western, White, male, heterosexual hegemonic ideology, excluding many other
epistemological and ontological formulations. Thus, any project that seeks to
overturn this hierarchy and democratize education must be a project of justice and
liberty, and even a struggle against the repressive elements of capitalism.
I argue that multiculturalism in international education is a project that can
benefit from a critical theory/critical pedagogy analysis. Such an analysis will result
in a reorganization of study abroad, shifting its emphasis from the current privileging
of the acquisition of cross-cultural skills and cognitive development, to one that
stresses equality, justice and freedom. This section will elucidate how critical theory
and critical pedagogy can accomplish this goal.
Critical pedagogy, or border pedagogy as Giroux (1992) calls it, takes a
political position to address injustices while attempting to avoid duplicating means
that create the injustices in the first place (p. 4). The purpose of critical pedagogy,
he continues, is to make society more democratic, which he defines as a celebration
of difference (p. 11). For Giroux, pedagogy is a discursive practice ... to extend the
principles of human dignity, liberty and social justice (p. 4) to all of society. His
concept of border crossing, the leitmotif of this paper, connects education with a
broader political project of democracy and emancipation.
Thus, ethical considerations induce the practice of democracy, responsibility
and concern for others, and are fundamental to critical pedagogy (Freire, 1970/1997;
Giroux, 1992; McLaren, 1995, 1997). Freire (in McLaren, 1997) characterizes
critical pedagogy as situated in an ethics of compassion, love and solidarity (p. 70)
in its struggle for equality. For McLaren (1997) and Giroux, ethics is not merely a
philosophical or textual issue. Rather, they link it inextricably to the fundamental
problem of democracy and emancipation for all. In a sense, it is a continuation of the
social project of modernism that advocated liberty, justice and equality, but was
never fully realized.
Critical pedagogy takes an activist stance that calls for resistance to texts of
oppression in the quest for social justice. The politics of difference gives pride of
place to those voices that lie outside the dominant discourse. Challenges to racist,
sexist, and homophobic educational practices inhere in a larger project of liberation
and democratization. Critical pedagogy sees education, in all its political, social,
cultural and geographic manifestations, as the connection of learning to social
An opportunity for such engagement was missed when the New York City
public schools gay-positive rainbow curriculum was rescinded. Students and
teachers could have initiated letter-writing campaigns, demonstrations and other
forms of resistance. Likewise, gay bashing, such as the recent occurrences in
Wyoming and Alabama, ought to be discussed in classrooms, leading to actions that
might eradicate homophobia. It is precisely this integration of theory and practice,
focused on social and political concerns on the promotion of social justice, that
distinguishes critical pedagogy from other educational practices.
Education is the practice of freedom that allows one to assert ones own
subjectivity in opposition to the dominant discourse (Freire, 1985). hooks (1994)
argues for the freedom to resist cooptation by bourgeois society and unequal
practices in and outside of the academy. She shows how the academys dichotomy
between ideas and actions with respect to theories of blackness contributes to the
oppression of African Americans by asserting authority over Black liberation
struggles. For hooks, Freires conscientizagao opposes this theory/practice binarism,
allowing a project of freedom through the recognition of African Americans
Knowledge should serve the anticapitalist struggle, commitment to social
justice and elimination of oppression, according to McLaren (1997). Educators and
researchers should use and locate their positions not only to develop theories that
analyze social issues, but also to effect change and promote emancipation. McLaren
also posits that the language of democracy and justice must reflect a politics of
difference and link education to broader social and political discourses. He beckons
educators to go beyond the linguistic realm in the struggle for social justice, and to
include a critique of capitalist relations of production. Clearly, McLarens critical
pedagogy remains a Marxist project:
A pedagogy of liberation is a pedagogy that is able to recognize the
daily transmutations of capital, to organize the day-to-day resistance
of the dominated classes, and to release the liberation project from the
bondage of its own inertia and disillusionment.... Only with a
renewed emphasis on and approach to class analysis and struggle can
critical pedagogy remain true to its project of liberation, (p. 300)
Similarly, Peters (1996) decries the economic imperatives of education that
emphasize consumerism and entrepreneurialism over equity and social justice
(p. 88), values which have gone out of fashion in this age of global markets and
Freire (1985) devoted his life and work to education as a revolutionary
project of liberation toward equality and social justice. According to Giroux, Freire
saw education as a referent for change to create a new society that transcends
theoretical boundaries of any one specific political doctrine, while also linking social
theory and practice to the deepest aspects of emancipation (xiii). Thus, critical
pedagogy redefines education as a dialogue of problem-posing between two equal
subjects engaged in a struggle for knowledge and freedom. In sum, education is
conceived by Freire (1970/1997) as the practice of liberation by humans engaged in
the ontological and historic vocation of becoming more fully human (p. 48), which
can only be accomplished by a radical transformation of society.
Diversity. Cultural Hybridity- and Multiculturalism
In much of the international education literature, multiculturalism is
contrasted with internationalism (Carter, 1991; Frey, 1994; Monaghan, 1994). This
dichotomy is laden with political and power issues. It valorizes the latter as
recognition, acceptance and awareness of difference outside ones national
boundaries, along with global vision, cultural understanding, [and] intercultural
sensitivity (Frey, p. 24). Multiculturalism refers to domestic issues of gender,
ethnicity and race, connoting injustice, inequality and ghettoization (Frey, p. 146).
Monaghan (1994) points out a double standard in the Zeitgeist that extols
foreign-language study and study abroad, even as it denigrates bilingual education in
the U.S. against a backdrop of generalized anti-immigrant sentiment and xenophobic
policies (such as the passage of Proposition 187 in California). I think existing power
relations are played out here by valorization of an elite socioeconomic sector that
studies abroad, while the aspirations of the underclass of recent immigrants are
devalued. Similarly, Frey indicates that this bifurcation leads to ample funding and
infrastructure for internationalism, whereas multicultural programs are often starved.
J Hybridity refers to the antiessentializing diversity associated with border crossing. It represents the
postmodern subject as fluid, historic, and contingent. Hybridity opposes the fixity implicated with
othering. I am also aware of the different uses of this term, which vary from its cooptation by
conservative forces to its more radical formulations.
In the U.S. culture wars of the 1980s and 1990s, multiculturalism is a battle
cry on every side. While the right wing is strongly opposed to the entire enterprise
for its alleged repudiation of traditions, truths and morals, the liberal form of
multiculturalism connotes inclusivity, diversity, difference and cultural relativism.
Multiculturalism also exists in what I call postmodern and poststructuralist versions
that contest the universalism and foundationalism of modernism (Friedman, 1997;
Geyer, 1993; Hutnyk, 1997; Sanlo, 1998; Van der Veer, 1997; Werbner, 1997;
Yuval-Davis, 1997). Finally, I conclude with critical, radical, and revolutionary
incarnations that object to liberal multiculturalism for its inattention to issues of
power, politics, justice, social change and liberation (Giroux et al., 1989; Giroux,
1992; Hollinger, 1995; hooks, 1994; McLaren, 1995, 1997; Peters, 1996). These
radical views, to which I subscribe, will be addressed in a section below. For now I
will turn to their liberal cousin.
The liberal brand of multiculturalism can be enacted by policies such as
affirmative action, or practiced as a form of individual cognitive development
(Margulies-Eisner, 1997). Some researchers theorize diversity as a discourse to
change the culture of schooling, and to overcome parochialism and ethnocentrism by
exposing participants to a variety of cultures. These scholars argue unequivocally in
favor of cultural relativism (Fersh, 1990; Flack, 1981; Hembroff & Rusz, 1993;
0yen, 1985; Parish & Aquila, 1996). For me, the notion of decreasing ethnocentrism
must be examined in the context of broader diversity. If not, it could be construed as
forced conformity to the dominant culture for minority students who have
historically been situated as different and other, and who have struggled hard to
develop a positive self-identity.
The liberal model of multiculturalism remains the predominant one in
mainstream society. While the multiculturalism I envision for international
education is informed by more radical versions, I believe a full understanding of the
liberal variety is necessary in order to replace it by something more revolutionary
and liberating. One of the most thorough explanations of liberal multiculturalism I
have encountered is the work of Nathan Glazer (1997). Using the Nexis-Lexis
online database of newspapers as a source, he indicates that in 1988 there were no
references to multiculturalism, whereas in 1994 there were 1500. Thus, its common
usage is a fairly recent phenomenon.
According to Glazer, multiculturalism rejects the assimilationist model (the
melting pot) that dilutes ones own culture and background, in favor of the salad
bowl, in which race, gender, ethnicity, etc. remain distinct. He opposes
transformative multiculturalism that frames U.S. history as dominated by racial
and ethnic oppression. Although Glazer acknowledges that the term is highly
charged, he believes the discussion of minority and ethnic diversity in this country
can proceed neutrally (pp. 10-11).
While declaring himself a multiculturalist (he served on a New York State
committee that issued a 1991 report on multiculturalism entitled One Nation, Many
Peoples: A Declaration of Cultural Independence), Glazer takes exception to the
curricular devaluation of European culture that some multiculturalists advance.
Playing devils advocate, I believe, he also takes issue with the exclusion of class
under the multicultural umbrella. Some of Glazers concerns betray a deep
ambivalence toward major precepts of multiculturalism. For example, he asks if a
diversity-promoting curriculum undermines the teaching of truth, American
unity and civic harmony to children (p. 34). He flinches from the multiculturalist
view that questions the foundationalism and objective truth of science and math.
Glazers multiculturalism is a unifying ideology that promotes inclusion, loyalty,
equality, and pluralism. He objects to an emphasis on discrimination, oppression,
and grievance (p. 45) and who hates whom (p. 39). Glazer concedes that the
crimes in U.S. history must be acknowledged, but argues that, for the good of
society, we need to move beyond this collective hand-wringing.
Glazers discussion of multicultural curricula begs closer examination. He
contrasts the extreme case of a Eurocentric curriculum based on the commitment to
subjects of study that have lost significance and meaning for our lives today, with
an extreme Afrocentric curriculum, which, in his view, is based on fantasy (p. 36).
The place of ancient Egypt in the teaching of history is the nexus. He admits its
previous stature as a civilization, but depreciates its legacy in present-day Egypt as
little more than a source of tourist revenue, insisting that its most unlikely Blacks
had anything to do with it (p. 37). His unreconstructed (undeconstructed?)
Eurocentrism is revealed in his belief that European history is far more relevant to
U.S. education than any other:
Attitudes toward this primacy of Europe may differ, but one cannot
dispute that European ideas, power, and expansion account for the
fact that almost all modem states share similar ideals and similar
approaches to the realization of their ideals. So emphasis on the
primacy of Europe has a very different character from an emphasis on
the primacy of Africa in defining and shaping our world, (p. 37)
Glazers conceptualization of multiculturalism remains essentialist. He
professes astonishment at the assumed unity of womens, ethnic and racial studies
champions of multiculturalism. He proclaims that as long as we already go beyond
race and ethnicity to include womens studies in multiculturalism, why not include
cultures of different life-style groups? (p. 18). Still, he acknowledges the
political risks of thoroughgoing multiculturalism in primary and secondary schools,
recalling the debacle of New York Citys inclusive, gay/lesbian-positive rainbow
curriculum that led to the ouster of the school chancellor who tried to implement it.
Glazers reductionist and stereotypical constructions are also evident in his attempts
to characterize ethnic communities:
They [Asian-Americans] seem perfectly content with a Eurocentric
curriculum ... Science and math, to which Asians are drawn as
offering the best opportunity to display their assiduity and talents ... In
time the [Mexican] immigrants learn English and lose interest in
Mexico ... Puerto Rican leaders call for more bilingual education,
more Puerto Rican content, but their level of militancy does not
approach that of black advocates ... Blacks are the storm troops in the
battles over multiculturalism .... (pp. 92-95)
In the end, Glazer lauds the success of multiculturalism in the U.S. for its
acceptance of pluralism as a central American value, which embraces all races,
both sexes, different lifestyles as being equally good and deserving of respect and of
protection against discrimination. This is exemplified, according to the author, by
the nondiscriminatory immigration policy of the past 30 years (p. 79). However,
he traces the origin of multiculturalism to our societys failure to assimilate African
Americans into mainstream society:
Multiculturalism is the price America is paying for its inability or
unwillingness to incorporate into its society African Americans, in the
same way and to the same degree it has incorporated so many groups.
Of course, Glazer concedes, multiculturalism goes beyond atoning for that sin of
omission, and reflects the incorporation of and a reaction to other developments,
such as the womens movement, sexual liberation, gay liberation, new (i.e., non-
European) immigration, and the declining self-confidence and arrogance (p. 147)
of the U.S. in recent times.
I prefer to see African-American resistance to appropriation by the dominant
culture not as an unfortunate occurrence, but rather as a testimony to the tenacious
pursuit of autonomy by a heterogeneous group against a universalizing, totalizing,
and hegemonic dominant discourse. Hall (1989) rejects homogenization of African
Americans, and avows the diversity within the category black, which he calls a
politically and culturally constructed category, but advocates a solidarity and
identification ... [that] work with and through difference ... [for the purposes of]
struggle and resistance (p. 225). Like hooks, Hall calls for a recognition of a
multivocalic, antiessentialist politics of representation (p. 224) that invokes
Postmodernist multiculturalism is concerned with the crisis of representation.
It refutes fixed and essentialist constructions of other, in favor of a fluid,
transgressing, border-crossing subjectivity. This model of multiculturalism goes
beyond mere inclusivity and cognition, to engage in an active effort to counter
hegemonic and negative stereotyping. Multiculturalism uses diversity as its point of
departure, and deconstructs the production of knowledge and universal values that
underlie Western, modernist ideas about education. This hastens a decentering
towards the fragmented margins where ethnic, racial and sexual minorities have
always resided (Friedman, 1997).
For example, Sanlos (1998) guide for college administrators who work with
gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered (GLBT) people charges universities with
the obligation to present information by and about as full a range of knowledge,
behaviors, and cultures as possible, to combat homophobia and heterosexism by
means of nondiscrimination policies (p. 24). In addition to such policies, this could
be accomplished by adoption of queer studies curricula, hiring qualified openly
GLBT professors, and funding of GLBT organizations and activities. Sanlo also
repudiates the heterosexual/homosexual dichotomy that privileges the former as
moral, universal, [and] normal (p. 136).
Geyer (1993) defines multiculturalism as a
set of ideas and concepts that explores the diversity and difference of
cultural articulations and their uneasy, embattled interactions, against
monoculturalism, which presumes a hierarchy of cultural values or a
teleology of homogenizing progress emanating from a single center.
In a collection of essays entitled Debating Cultural Hybridity, Werbner
(1997) posits that the dialectics of multiculturalism, characterized by fluidity and
multivocality, precludes establishment of a fixed notion. The peripatetic individual,
displaced by a heritage of colonialism and imperialistic wars, resurfaces as the
cultural hybrid, the proper subject of study in anthropology and cultural studies, or
nomadology as Deleuze and Guattari call it (in van der Veer, 1997, p. 93).
According to Bhabha (in van der Veer),
the migrant can reinvent the self in the world of travel and in the
postcolonial situation of cultural hybridity that entertains difference
without an assumed or imposed hierarchy resulting in political
empowerment and enlargement of the multicultural cause, (p. 94)
Van der Veer problematizes hybridity, lest the multicultural project
reinstantiate the drive toward integration at the expense of individualization and
differentiation (p. 104). This type of multiculturalism is concerned with issues of
power and politics, warning of a hegemonic appropriation of cultural difference and
the exoticization of multiculturalism (Hutnyk, 1997; Yuval-Davis, 1997). Yuval-
Davis construes multiculturalism as a struggle between advocates of homogeneity
and assimilation against partisans of ethnic pluralism and difference.
The whole debate on multiculturalism stumbles on the fact that the
boundaries of difference, as well as the boundaries of social rights, are
determined by specific hegemonic perhaps universalistic, but
definitely not universal discourses. And ... universalist discourses
which do not take into account the differential positionings of those to
whom they refer often cover up racist [to which I would add sexist,
classist, ageist, disablist, and homophobic] constructions. (p. 199)
Papastergiadis (1997) sees hybridity as the antidote to essentialist
subjectivity (p. 273) eventuated by the poststructural and postmodern turns, which
liberate the subject from notions of fixity and purity (p. 257). Hence, hybridity
disrupts the alterity imposed by the colonial discourse, creating a counter-hegemonic
narrative of resistance. It is always an incomplete, ongoing process (Trinh Minh-
ha, in Papastergiadis, p. 274) emitting a dialogic tension between the center and
margins and transgressing boundaries.
Thus, contrary to the critical theorists who chide postmodernists for de-
emphasizing issues of power and politics, the multiculturalists described above
clearly link the issues of decentering and subjectivity to relations of power.
Moreover, I believe any discussion of othering and marginalization is, ipso facto, an
analysis of politics and power.
My own formulation of multiculturalism is informed by postmodern critical
theory. By taking a critical theory approach to the topic, I am injecting the issues of
politics, power, justice, social change and liberation into the multicultural discourse.
Critical postmodernism enables me to uproot the totalizing, universalistic and
foundational discourse of White, male, heterosexual, modernist Eurocentrism,
replacing it with historicity, contingency, particularity and contextuality, and an
incredulity toward metanarratives (Lyotard, in Seidman, 1994).
My original intention was to develop my own definition of this highly
debated term. However, during the course of my research, I discovered that several
had already laid the groundwork, and one beat me to the punch by deriving a
conceptualization of multiculturalism that is germane to my topic: Border pedagogy
and border crossing are Girouxs imprint on multiculturalism. These metaphors for
multiculturalism have particular resonance for international education, for the simple
reason that participants are constructed as literal border crossers. The border is a
signifying, symbolic space for the theoretical framework that investigates the
enactment of international education. Border pedagogy is critical, postmodern,
poststructural and postcolonial, as these terms have been used throughout this
treatise. It is, according to Giroux (1992),
a political project that goes beyond merely discursive struggles, one
that also attempts to transform nondiscursive and institutional
relations of power by connecting educational struggles with broader
struggles for democratization, pluralization, and reconstruction of
public life. (p. 22)
Border pedagogy puts an end to the universal subject, and replaces it with
multilayered and contradictory voices and experiences that fall outside the master
narrative of a monolithic culture (Giroux, p. 34).
There are other theorists who have influenced my conception of radical
multiculturalism as well: Hollingers (1995) postethnic model of multiculturalism,
described in the Postmodemism/Poststructuralism section, which is based on a
voluntary affiliation rather than a fixed identity. Akin to Girouxs border crosser,
Hollingers postethnic is a flexible, performative and socially constructed category
that is particularistic, contingent, and acknowledges multiple identities. By refusing
to adhere to a universal construction, Hollinger reflects the postmodern turn. His
notion of postethnic is deconstructionist in its attempt to decenter the unity of the
term ethnicity, to represent situatedness within virtually any bounded community,
regardless of its relation to other communities (p. 64). He uses the example of
mixed-race individuals, whose affirmation of their own difference has complicated
the argument over what kinds of sameness and what kinds of difference matter (p.
Hollingers view of multiculturalism is not without limitations: Human
beings make their own history, but they do not make it just as they please, they do
not make it under circumstances chosen by themselves, but under circumstances
directly encountered, given, and transmitted from the past (Marx in Hollinger, p.
118). Furthermore, he warns that economic globalization has a tendency toward
enforced homogenization (p. 146), to which he advocates resistance, as I do.
Radical multi cultural! sm is contrasted with liberal multiculturalism, which
privileges assimilation to a dominant culture. It stems from a politics of difference
(Peters, 1996, p. 185), and is antiessentialist, antifoundationalist and antiuniversalist.
Cornel West (in Peters) offers a pithy description of this new cultural politics of
Distinctive features of the new cultural politics of difference are to
trash the monolithic and homogenous in the name of diversity,
multiplicity and heterogeneity; to reject the abstract, general and
universal in light of the concrete, specific, and particular; and to
historicize, contextualize and pluralize by highlighting the contingent,
provisional, variable, tentative, shifting and changing, (p. 187)
hooks (1994) alludes to a multiculturalism that decenters the Western, White
male canon, in favor of multivocality, difference, diversity and a commitment to
justice. Thus, multiculturalism eschews the language of oppression in favor of
freedom and mutual responsibility, to promote a counter-hegemonic worldview (p.
17). She also identifies with Girouxs border crosser, who does not sacrifice his/her
own subjectivity and culture.
McLaren (1997) advocates a revolutionary multiculturalism that places it
within the context of power, privilege and oppression. Pushing the envelope beyond
an analysis of difference, marginalization and other, McLaren rails against White
supremacy and White hegemony. He calls on the U.S. to examine how non-Whites
have influenced Western culture (p. 214). By indicting Whiteness, McLaren situates
the multicultural discourse as more than inclusivity. For him, it must be an actively
antiracist, antisexist, antihomophobic and anticapitalist struggle for democracy and
social justice. In his words, McLarens revolutionary multiculturalism is a
polyvocal and insurgent multiculturalism that resists cultural hegemony,
monoculturalism, assimilation, homogeneity and capitalist exploitation in its many
guises (p. 229).
Marable (in McLaren, 1997) proposes a revolutionary multicultural
curriculum to include afternoon freedom schools that address political topics, offer
instruction on social protest, and trace the history of revolutionaries in order to build
a radical consciousness (p. 213). Thus, revolutionary multiculturalism is a vision of
critical pedagogy that seeks to reconstitute the deep structure of the political
economy, culture and power. It is an anticapitalist struggle, against practices of
unfreedom (p. 288).
Like any other aspect of critical pedagogy, border pedagogy is a project of
empowerment and liberation. For Giroux (1992), multiculturalism cannot be
separated from issues of power, politics and pedagogy. He recalls Toni Morrison,
who asks not why minorities have been marginalized or silenced, but rather how
have they been eviscerated from a society seething with [their] presence? (p. 143).
Giroux laments the appropriation of liberal multiculturalism by the right-wing
political, cultural and educational agenda which emphasizes heritage, literacy,
censorship, moral regulation, testing/standards instead of self-expression,
empowerment, learning and liberation (p. 231). This variety of multiculturalism,
exemplified by Glazer, Hirsch and Ravitch, is hegemonic, reinforcing the dominant
culture by its ahistoric, apolitical constructions that continues to other non-
dominant groups. In other words, the center remains the same.
I conclude with Girouxs formulation of the central tenets of multiculturalism
that summarize the major positions I have outlined:
(1) reveal the politics of multiculturalism that treat difference as a
technical category rather than a political one; (2) challenge
educational discourse that ignores social, political and racial tensions
in culture, language and voice; (3) theorize difference as issues of
power, domination and struggle; and (4) develop a foundation for
antiracist [and I would add antisexist, antihomophobic and anti-
other] pedagogy, (p. 118)
The principal theoretical approaches to education and study abroad outlined
in this chapter have focused on the nexus of multiculturalism and critical
theory/critical pedagogy. Critical theory examines the relationship among power,
politics and pedagogy, while multiculturalism focuses on the historic, social and
cultural formation and exclusion of non-dominant groups. The combination of these
two frameworks informs my analysis of international education, to which I now turn.
DECONSTRUCTING INTERNATIONAL EDUCATION
In the previous chapters, I theorized about aspects of international education,
examining the contributions of several schools of thought. Theories of cognitive
development and cross-culturalism outlined in Chapter 2 have much to say about the
purposes for studying abroad, but do not provide an adequate explanation for the lack
of diversity in overseas study. Such descriptive and even hortatory analysis
addresses the effects of international education more than the causes of minority
underrepresentation among overseas sojourners. Likewise, the study-abroad literature
that enumerates reasons (e.g., finances, family dynamics, fear of discrimination,
program staffing and location, and lack of awareness of programs) for low minority
participation rates in overseas exchange merely states the problem, but is insufficient
to resolve it. Hence, I propose that critical theory/critical pedagogy are well-suited
for this purpose: to deconstruct the theoretical underpinnings of international
As previously stated, deconstruction is a method that offers a second reading
of a text that disrupts the first, classical reading. Thus, I want it made clear to the
reader that in retheorizing international education I am not refuting the classical
theories that other have used to analyze study abroad. Cognitive development and
acquisition of cross-cultural skills are laudable goals of international education. To
ignore them would be to throw out the baby with the bathwater. Rather,
deconstruction raises penetrating questions demanded by postmodern critical theory
about the purposes of international education, with the goal of expanding
opportunities for all future participants.
According to Locke, Spirduso and Silverman (1988), methodology must be
freely adapted to the purpose of the study and requires great attention to detail (p.
31). My methodological approach is informed by critical theory. Recall that Guba
and Lincoln (1994) and Kincheloe and McLaren (1994) posit that critical theory is
both a theory and a methodology. Critical pedagogy disclaims the practice of
pedagogy as divorced from any political and historical context, as if knowledge were
objective and produced in a vacuum. With this theory, Giroux (1992) demonstrates
how identities and subjectivities are produced differently in relation to particular
forms of knowledge and power (p. 99). Thus, examination of minority participation
in international education must take into account such issues as minority status in the
U.S., identity formation and culture, and hegemony. In other words, methodology is
intimately woven with theoretical concerns.
The purpose of my study is to discuss the reasons why minority students are
underrepresented in international education programs. Crucial to this understanding